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Portland Relief Organization Takes Micro-Financing To The Next Level

A Portland-based relief organization is the new owner of an Indonesian bank.  MercyCorps says the purchase will make it possible to provide small loans to millions of poor people.  Correspondent Chris Lehman reports

It's tough getting a loan or opening a bank account when you live on just a few dollars a day.

Micro-financing has opened the doors to banking for many people in the developing world.  But groups that provide micro-financing need money and logistical support to keep their doors open.

That's why MercyCorp plunked down $33 million to buy a struggling Indonesian bank.

MercyCorps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer says the new bank will partner with about 5000 existing micro-finance institutions.

Neal Keny-Guyer:  "It will enable us to push out innovative micro-finance products such as ATM's, mobile backing, micro-insurance, and so forth.  In other words, to bring the best practices from the commercial banking sector to the micro-finance sector."

Much of the money for the bank purchase came from the Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

MercyCorps hopes the arrangement will reach up to 16 million new clients of micro-financing.

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