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IDB announces winners of microenterprise development awards

A Bolivian microfinance institution, two Peruvian non-profit organizations and a Salvadoran social entrepreneur have won the Inter-American Development Bank’s annual awards for excellence in promoting microenterprise, the IDB announced today.

This year’s winners are BancoSol of Bolivia, Peruvian microcredit provider ProMujer, the Lima-based NGO Colectivo Integral de Desarrollo and Ildiko de Tesak, a Salvadoran lawyer who has championed entrepreneurship opportunities for poor women and children’s rights.

El Salvador President Elias Antonio Saca and IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno will present the awards on Thursday, October 4, during the main ceremony of the 10th Microenterprise Forum, which will be held in San Salvador October 3-5.

The Microenterprise Forum will bring together more than 1,000 participants, including leaders from NGOs, foundations, social investment funds, microfinance institutions, credit unions, banks, consulting firms, universities, think tanks, government agencies and multilateral aid organizations.

2007 Award Winners

BancoSol, which won the award for regulated financial institutions, is one of the pioneers of microfinance in Bolivia. Originally established in 1984 as a foundation to serve low-income entrepreneurs, it became the world’s first private microfinance  bank in 1992 in order to provide its clients a full range of financial services and to be able to leverage its resources to expand its credit activities. By 2007 it had more than 100,000 clients, a $170 million loan portfolio and $150 million in deposits. BancoSol, a member of the ACCIÓN network, was recognized for its long record of success, its emphasis on innovation, especially its work with remittances and housing products, and its success in attracting deposits and local capital to fund its operations.  Today, Bancosol is one of Bolivia’s most profitable banks of any kind.

The award for non-regulated financial institutions went to ProMujer Peru, a non-governmental organization that provides poor women access to microcredit and social services such as healthcare and education. Like other members of the ProMujer network, it combines village banking (where groups of borrowers share responsibility for a loan) with training and incentives to accumulate savings. ProMujer Peru stood out for its efforts to reach women in rural areas (nearly one third of its 35,000 clients live on less than $1 a day) and the high quality of its loan portfolio, which has very low delinquency rates.

Colectivo Integral de Desarrollo of Peru won the award for excellence in enterprise development services. A non-profit organization that promotes youth entrepreneurship, CID started with just 13 projects in a poor neighborhood of Lima in 1990. Over the years it has helped more than 40,000 young people and expanded to eight regions in Peru as well as to Honduras, Nicaragua and Paraguay. CID assists fledgling entrepreneurs during their first year of operation, providing them training, technical assistance, internships and mentoring services. The young clients, whose businesses typically involve investments of less than $1,000, pay fees to offset part of the cost of CID’s services.

This year’s winner of the IDB’s Social Entrepreneurship Award is Ildiko de Tesak, a Hungarian-born lawyer who became a champion of low-income women entrepreneurs and children’s rights in her adopted country, El Salvador. Under her leadership, the nonprofit Organización Empresarial Femenina, an NGO that works with poor women and children in rural areas and urban slums, expanded from 200 to 13,000 beneficiary families. Tesak has also been an effective promoter of early childhood education, the eradication of child labor in dangerous industries and the strengthening of laws on child support payments.

The IDB is the leading source of financing for microenterprise development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 1978 it has invested more than $1 billion in over 500 projects related with microfinance and small business development.

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