eBay founder gives $100 million for microfinance to help world’s poorest people
November 4, 2005
Ebay Inc. founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pamela, have given $100 million in eBay stock to Tufts University to create a fund that will invest in microfinance.
Microfinance, the practice of loaning small amounts of money to people who are often too poor to qualify for conventional lending, is increasingly seen as a promising means to help the world’s poorest people. Supporters argue that microfinance can fund microenterprises that generate broad-based, long-term economic growth opportunities in developing countries.
The $100 million gift is the largest that Tufts — a university near Boston — has ever received. The Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund will be administered by the university
eBay and Omidyar Network Founder Launches $100 Million Microfinance Fund in Partnership with Tufts University
Tufts University news release
MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass—Tufts University today announced that Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay and co-founder of Omidyar Network with his wife, Pam both graduates of Tufts will invest $100 million in international microfinance initiatives through a unique partnership with their alma mater.
The $100 million endowment gift is the largest single gift in the history of Tufts University as well as the largest private allocation of capital to microfinance by an individual or family. The Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund will be invested solely in microfinance initiatives. An independent supporting organization controlled by a Board of Directors will have fiduciary responsibility for investing the funds with the expectation of risk-appropriate financial returns.
“Partnering with the Omidyars to advance microfinance is a strategic fit for Tufts on many levels,” said Lawrence S. Bacow, president of Tufts University. “As an economist, I’m attracted to microfinance as a financially self-sustaining model for making a difference in the world. Tufts’ commitment to active citizenship is a global pursuit that runs deep, and we are pleased to leverage resources that yield so many positive returns.”
Fifty percent of earnings from the fund will be reinvested in the original pool for additional microfinance programs. The remaining 50 percent of income will advance important Tufts programs such as support for faculty, financial aid, debt forgiveness for graduates pursuing careers in public service, and scholarships that will enable economically disadvantaged students to attend classes during summer session.
“We believe that business can be a tool for social good. Microfinance has already shown that enabling the poor to empower themselves economically can be good business,” said Pierre Omidyar. “By engaging Tufts as an institutional investor in microfinance initiatives, our hope is that the microfinance industry can better meet the demand for financial services among the world’s poor, while also demonstrating its potential commercial viability to a wider institutional investor audience.”
The $100 million investment will bolster international microfinance institutions in their efforts to scale their capacity to make loans to poor, predominantly female heads of households, who lack adequate income to provide the basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing for themselves and their families. Microloans averaging $600—often as low as $40—enable the poor to launch their own entrepreneurial pursuits.
Pierre Omidyar noted that strategic alignment with Tufts was ideal for many reasons. “The university has not only demonstrated leadership in educating active citizens, but Tufts also has consistently engaged in seeking practical solutions to real-world issues around the globe,” he said.
This investment in international microfinance builds on the Omidyars’ well-established partnership with Tufts. In 1999, the University College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts was founded through the generosity of the Omidyars, and it has gained international attention for creatively embedding public service values, skills and learning opportunities across the curriculum. Outreach activities involve students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of surrounding communities in programs ranging from child literacy to environmental cleanup.
“Through this venture with Tufts, Pierre Omidyar is using the same creativity that produced eBay to influence the world in profound ways,” said President Bacow, “and we thank Pierre and Pam for this opportunity to be their partner.”
More information on the Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund is available at www.tufts.edu/microfinancefund.
Google, MIT support $100 laptop for the world’s poorest children
October 6, 2005
Google, AMD, Brightstar, News Corporation, and Red Hat have signed on to MIT’s low-cost laptop initiative which aims to deliver a fully functional $100 machine to the developing world.
Microentrepreneurship program for villagers in the Gambia
September 9, 2005
Poor communities in the Gambia are now earning regular income by selling forest products, thanks to an FAO programme that helps communities to build up markets for local products..
Cell phones may help “save” Africa
July 11, 2005
For all the talk about “making poverty history” through aid and debt relief at the G8 meeting in Scotland and among aging rock stars at Live8 concerts, perhaps the best tool for poverty alleviation on the continent is the mobile phone. Yes, that ubiquitous handheld device has done wonders for the poor around the world.
This past Saturday millions of people watched the anti-poverty “Live 8” concerts held in London, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Moscow, Philadelphia and Barrie, Canada. Live 8 coincides with tomorrow’s G8 summit of world leaders and aims to raise awareness of the need for aid, debt relief and fairer trade for Africa. While the cancellation of debt and delivery of aid to Africa is a noble and needed cause for a desparately poor continent, policy makers will need to ensure that funds are spent wisely to maximize the benefits for the largest number of Africans. In the past, aid to the developing world has met mixed reviews. Some of the largest recipients of aid are still some of the world’s poorest countries. What’s going on here? Have aid agencies just been throwing money into a hole?.
Mobilizing seniors to fight poverty in Africa
July 4, 2005
For all the hype around sending billions of dollars in aid to Africa, it is important to remember that money must be spent wisely. Some of the largest recipients of aid in the past are still some of the world’s poorest countries thanks to corrupt regimes that consumed massive amounts of aid. Direct aid has not only bred corruption and the misallocation of resources away from those who need it most, but it has also fostered dependency and skewed the perceived value of goods and services. One program that could have potential for real poverty alleviation in Africa is a “Gray Corps” concept which would take advantage of the experience and expertise of aging Americans (aged 65 and older), a segment of the population that is expected to grow from approximately 35 million in 2000 to an estimated 71 million in 2030. This group could be key to addressing a number of looming social issues both here in the United States and abroad.
Developing sustainable business models that address the needs of the world’s poor
People involved with international development and poverty alleviation programs are increasingly looking toward the private sector for inspiration and assistance. Many believe that involving business in such efforts will not only bring wealth, respect, dignity, and improved education and health to the world’s poor but also prove to be a profitable business strategy.
Secondary school students from Nigeria competing against Poland? Russia versus Ghana? US versus Tajikistan? South Africa versus China? Ukraine versus the Philippines? Yes, but this is not a soccer match-it’s the “SAGE World Cup.” Rather than kicking a ball through a goal, these Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) will explain how they have completed entrepreneurship projects and social ventures for the betterment of their communities. The best team will be crowned “SAGE World Cup” champion on 11-14 August in San Francisco. Gray’s International College from Kaduna State will represent Nigeria in this unique program that combines local collaboration with global competition.