The MasterCard Foundation and the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, have announced the launch of a $37.4 million project to provide roughly 5.3 million people in sub-Saharan Africa with access to financial services.
To that end, the project will help microfinance banks in the region expand more rapidly, particularly in remote areas; develop new products and delivery channels; and provide low-cost mobile services to low-income customers. Building on recent economic gains in many African countries, the project also will work to create new opportunities for the disadvantaged to grow their businesses, gain access to cost-effective financial services, and manage risk.
The project will build on the knowledge and expertise of IFC and the MasterCard Foundation, institutions that have been working in Africa for at least five years. Since its first microfinance investment in 1997, IFC has steadily increased its support of microfinance, becoming one of the top three investors in the world, while the MasterCard Foundation, which was founded in 2006, has forged partnerships worth more than $230 million, helping to provide financial services and education to more than three million people in developing countries.
"Disadvantaged people derive real benefits from having more control over their finances, and our partnership with IFC will help bring responsible financial services to a significant number of people in sub-Saharan Africa," said MasterCard Foundation president and CEO Reeta Roy. "As we scale institutions and support new mobile financial service opportunities, this partnership will also create knowledge that will be invaluable in promoting greater financial inclusion."