The two-year programme will promote public-private partnerships and industry best practices that will help existing microfinance providers to expand the reach and range of services delivered to the poor. These efforts are also aimed at stimulating the development of more internationally recognised and commercially viable microfinance providers in Asia such as ASA, BRAC and Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.
South Asia is generally viewed as the birthplace of microfinance, and thousands of microfinance institutions (MFIs) are now operating in Asia, but the Asian Development Bank estimates that around 200 million poor and low-income households in the Asia region may not have access to financial services. To reach more microfinance clients, many Asian MFIs need to build their capacity through partnerships and strategic alliances, and by adopting best practices.
Speaking about this new programme, Robert Morse, CEO of Citigroup's Corporate and Investment Bank in Asia-Pacific, says: "Our continued support for the Foundation for Development Cooperation and the Banking with the Poor Network reflects Citi's commitment to help build a more inclusive financial sector in the Asia region. Our collective efforts will increase access to basic financial services, such as credit, savings, insurance and remittances, which can help lift entire communities out of poverty."
Citigroup supports the microfinance sector through both commercial relationships and grants. Citigroup is one of the world's largest donors to the microfinance sector, granting some $32 million to support microfinance programmes and organizations in more than 50 countries. In Asia alone, the Citigroup Foundation has committed more than $13 million in grants for microfinance related programmes since 1997.