1/26/2004 - HP (NYSE:HPQ), in partnership with a group of seven other public and private organizations, known as the Microdevelopment Finance Team, announced the launch of a pilot program in Uganda that will test a technology solution designed to improve the accessibility and efficiency of microfinance.
The Uganda pilot program aims to utilize information and communications technology to implement a Remote Transaction System, an affordable technology solution that captures loan payment and savings information electronically. This information is currently tracked manually. Equipment testing begins next month and the program is slated to run through December. The Microdevelopment Finance Team will use results from the program to design the best method for implementation in additional countries.
Microfinance provides small loans, as low as $25 each, to candidates who have not traditionally been served by commercial banks, or who have been unable to access such services. These loans allow recipients to buy the tools, basic equipment and merchandise required to run their small businesses.
The Microdevelopment Finance Team has committed to invest more than $2.3 million in grants, direct funding and in-kind support by the end of the pilot period. Today, most funding for microfinance comes from governments, donor organizations and private social investors. The Uganda pilot aims to improve operational efficiencies and extend the reach of the institutions that make theses loans.
Convened by HP, the team is a public-private consortium of microfinance leaders, technology specialists and business thinkers. Members include ACCION International, Bizcredit, echange LLC, FINCA International, Freedom from Hunger, the Grameen Foundation USA, HP and PRIDE AFRICA. The U.S. Agency for International Development is providing an additional $1.2 million in program funding.
"Many people take financial services like bank accounts, mortgages, student loans, and credit cards for granted," said Debra Dunn, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs and Global Citizenship, HP. "To much of the developing world, however, these services are simply unavailable. Microfinance helps to fill that important need and it is HP's hope that the solution we have developed with our partners will make entrepreneurship possible for many more people around the world."
Currently, 30 million to 50 million people take advantage of microfinance globally. The World Bank estimates that this number could reach 500 million people if the microfinance industry can overcome barriers such as poor infrastructure, limited access to funding and operational inefficiencies.
More information about the other members of the Microdevelopment Finance Team can be found on their Web sites:
HP is a technology solutions provider to consumers, businesses and institutions globally. The company's offerings span IT infrastructure, personal computing and access devices, global services and imaging and printing. For the fiscal year ending on Oct. 31, 2003, HP revenue totaled $73.1 billion. More information about HP is available at http://www.hp.com.
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