Initiative Will Use Mobile Services to Help Colombian Farmers Improve Productivity and Quality of Life; MasterCard Employees to Volunteer as Part of Broader Global Initiative
Purchase, N.Y., November 30, 2011 – MasterCard Worldwide and Grameen Foundation announced today a joint effort to launch mobile services that will provide agricultural and financial information to poor farmers in the cities of Urabá and Santa Marta, Colombia. The initiative will be funded by a $540,000 grant given to the Foundation by MasterCard.
Through this collaboration, MasterCard Worldwide and Grameen Foundation will provide banana and cocoa farmers with access to vital agricultural, weather and pricing information via mobile phones and other tools – information that will reduce the risks they face today and, ultimately, improve production and the farmers’ quality of life. The services will also help farming cooperatives improve their operations and serve farmers more effectively and efficiently. Beyond the farming community, MasterCard and Grameen Foundation plan to work with local partners to understand the demand for mobile financial services that are tailored to the needs of the poor.
“Through our collaboration with Grameen Foundation and the launch of mobile services to farmers in Colombia, MasterCard is furthering financial inclusion in Colombia,” says Patricia Devereux, Group Head, Corporate Philanthropy and Citizenship.
This innovative collaboration builds on Grameen Foundation’s pioneering experience developing locally-driven and sustainable mobile phone solutions to help the underserved improve their lives and livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
“Grameen Foundation believes that poor, rural communities like Urabá and Santa Marta can benefit greatly from services delivered over mobile phones and we are pleased to work with MasterCard on this initiative,” said Alberto Solano, Grameen Foundation’s Regional CEO for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Through this technology, we will have a unique opportunity to correct the lack of information available to rural farmers about best agriculture practices and financial tools, an issue that limits their ability to support their families.”
In addition, MasterCard employees around the world will be contributing their time and professional expertise to Bankers without Borders®, Grameen Foundation’s global volunteer initiative to make a difference in the lives of those most in need. Bankers without Borders helps alleviate poverty by connecting highly-skilled professionals with microfinance institutions and other organizations serving the poor to support entrepreneurship and technology improvements that can remove many of the barriers to financial inclusion.
Development of the pilot program will begin in December 2011, with service delivery expected in 2012. Over the next year, Grameen Foundation will work closely with MasterCard to develop mobile solutions based on local research led by the Foundation. They will also train and support the local agriculture organizations using the mobile services. The organizations will work together to integrate components of Smart Consumer, MasterCard’s financial education program in Latin America and the Caribbean, into the mobile services to help farmers and their families manage their personal finances.
About MasterCard Worldwide
MasterCard (NYSE: MA) is a global payments and technology company. It operates the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities—such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Learn more at www.mastercard.com or follow us on Twitter @mastercardnews.
About Grameen Foundation and Bankers Without Borders®
Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit organization, helps the world’s poorest people lift themselves out of poverty by providing access to financing and management strategies to the local organizations that serve them. It also develops mobile phone-based solutions that address “information poverty” among the poor by providing tools, information and services in the fields of health, agriculture, financial services and livelihood creation. Founded in 1997, Grameen Foundation has offices in Washington, DC; Seattle, WA; Colombia; Ghana; Hong Kong; Kenya; the Philippines; and Uganda. Microfinance pioneer Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, is a founding member of its Board of Directors, and now serves as director emeritus. For more information, please visit www.grameenfoundation.org.
Bankers without Borders® is Grameen Foundation’s global volunteer initiative. Since its inception in 2008, it has pioneered the use of skilled volunteers in the microfinance and technology-for-development industries and has cultivated a volunteer corps of more than 7,000 highly-skilled professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Bankers without Borders strategically connects volunteers to various microfinance and technology-for-development projects to eradicate global poverty. For more information, visit www.bankerswithoutborders.com or follow on Twitter @grameenbwb.
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