PORT OF SPAIN, April 18 U.S. President Barack
Obama on Saturday announced the creation of a $100 million
microfinance growth fund to help small lenders in the Western
Hemisphere continue making loans despite the global recession.
"The fund will provide stable medium- and longer-term
sources of finance to microfinance institutions and
microfinance investment vehicles to help rebuild their capacity
to lend during this difficult period," the White House said in
The announcement was made while Obama was attending the
Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.
A recent report showed 565 microfinance institutions in the
region were providing $9 billion in loans to about 9 million
microenterprises in the region. The lenders face a potential
shortfall of $750 million this year, it said.
Micro and small businesses provide most of the jobs in the
hemisphere, making it imperative to ensure that credit is
available to small lenders, the White House said.
The microfinance growth fund would be a partnership of the
Multilateral Investment Fund at the Inter-American Development
Bank, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the
Inter-American Investment Corporation.
"Debt and equity financing of $100 million, subject to each
partner's board approval, has already been identified as
initial capital for the fund," the White House said.
The Multilateral Investment Fund will take the lead role in
the initiative and will seek statements of interest next month,
it said. It will challenge private and public organizations to
join the effort, with the aim of raising a total $250 million
"While the region has a wealth of microfinance
institutions, these lenders are now confronting a serious
shortage of private finance from both international and local
sources," the White House said.
(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and