Omidyar Network Pledges $10 Million to Support 'Missing Middle'

The Omidyar Network in Redwood City, California, has announced that it is expanding its efforts to support small-to-medium enterprise (SME) in developing countries — the "missing middle" that exists between microloans made by microfinance institutions and the larger investments of commercial banks.

Building on its work in microfinance, the network will invest $10 million in the global SME sector over the next two years to spur the creation of formal funding options for entrepreneurs, which include microfinance clients whose success has created additional need for capital. The organization aims to create a level playing field for these entrepreneurs by giving them access to financial products and services that are integral to their success.

Stimulating small-to-medium enterprise has the potential to create jobs not just for entrepreneurs, but for the people they employ, giving those at the bottom of the economic pyramid options for economic opportunity beyond microfinance or the informal sector.

"Fostering small-to-medium enterprise will generate tremendous empowerment for individuals and their communities," said Jim Bunch, Omidyar Network director of investments. "Entrepreneurs are able to bring their passions and skills to market, creating economic and social value for themselves and their families. When these enterprises succeed and scale, this value can be shared with new employees, their families, and the community at large."