ACCIÓN, Vaga Lume, Fe y Alegría receive IDB development award:
IDB President Moreno stresses Civil Society’s role in the fight against poverty

Inter-American Development Bank
Monday, November 30, 2009

ESTORIL, Portugal – Three organizations received the Inter-American Development Bank’s first Juscelino Kubitschek Award for their outstanding contributions to fight poverty and promote social and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean, in a ceremony attended by Brazilian planning and budget minister Paulo Bernardo.

ACCIÓN Internacional, which specializes in microfinance, won the prize for its contribution in the field of economics and finance while Federación Internacional Fe y Alegría and Associação Vaga Lume (Brazil) won the award for their contribution in the social, cultural and scientific fields.  Fe y Alegría focuses on improving education in the region while Vaga Lume supports education and cultural promotion in the Brazilian Amazon.

Bernardo and IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno handed out the awards to the representatives of each institution in a ceremony during the XIX Ibero-American Summit in Estoril, Portugal. The award marks the 50th anniversary of the IDB and honors former Brazilian President Juscelino Kubitschek, who envisioned the creation of a multilateral development institution for Latin America and the Caribbean that later resulted in the founding of the IDB.

“We want to showcase Kubitschek’s spirit of entrepreneurship, democracy, economic progress and cultural development that characterized as well as to recognize the outstanding contributions foundations are making to the social and economic development of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean,” Moreno said about the awards.

A selection committee, made up of well-known specialists in the field of development in the region, selected the winners in April, when they analyzed 145 nominations of institutions representing 22 countries in the Americas and Europe.  Moreno chaired the committee and Ibero-American Secretary General Enrique V. Iglesias, who also participated during today’s event, acted as the group’s secretary.

The criteria used to select the winner for the field of economics and finance was based on the magnitude of its social impact. For the second category, the committee looked into social activities, especially those related to education.
During the ceremony representatives received a golden statue made of steel called “liberty” made by Ricardo Carvão Levy, an artist of Minas Gerais, Kubitschek’s home state.

Diego Guzmán, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean for ACCIÓN, received the award on behalf of the organization. Victor Murillo, a board member of Federación Fe y Alegria, and  Sylvia Guimarães, President of Vaga Lume, received the prize on behalf of their respective institutions. The prize shows that the Latin American civil society can make a difference for development in the region, according to Fe y Alegría’s Murillo.

The prize “is an invitation to keep investing for a better world, to provide communities with a desirable future,” said Murillo in a written interview before the ceremony. “The prize shows that change is possible and it is an invitation to the Latin American civil society to increase its efforts to make a difference for those that are excluded or marginalized.”

This is the first edition of the Juscelino Kubitscheck Award, which will be held every two years. Individuals and institutions nominated organizations for the prize.  The award is the biggest by a multilateral institution in Latin America and the Caribbean. Each category winner receives a prize of $100,000. The winners for the cultural social and scientific category shared the prize.

Vaga Lume plans to use the prize money to expand its work to other communities in the Amazon ad create a center to train volunteers who participate in the organization’s educational and cultural exchange programs.

“The prize gives us confirmation that we are on the right track and that we are not alone, because other people and organizations support the fulfillment of our mission," Vaga Lume’s Guimarães said in a written interview.

Maria Estela Kubitschek, daughter of the former Brazilian president, also attened the event which took place at the Cascais Miragem Hotel.

Profile of the winners
ACCIÓN Internacional (Latin America and the Caribbean) – Founded in Venezuela in 1961, ACCIÓN is a nonprofit organization with presence in 16 countries in the region. Its mission is to offer financial tools for individuals who want to start their own business. It offers microfinance, business training and other financial services. ACCIÓN, which helps people work their way up the economic ladder, has assisted more than 1 million clients with $1.5 billion in loans.

Federación Internacional Fe y Alegría (Latin America and the Caribbean) – Created 50 years ago, this institution carries out programs and actions in education and social promotion in 17 countries in the region. It partners with government and civil society to develop projects that will help students find new educational opportunities that will improve their lives. Fe y Alegría focuses its actions in formal, alternative and informal education, part-time and remote learning through radio programs. The institution also works on teacher training and the creation of services that promote social and community development. In 2006 alone, the number of students and participants in its programs surpassed 1.3 million. Fe y Alegría has a network of more than 1,600 support centers, with 2,700 service units among schools, radio stations and centers of long-distance learning and alternative education.

Associação Vaga Lume (Brazil) – This nonprofit organization promotes cultural and educational development of rural communities in the Amazon by promoting an exchange of knowledge between people living in the Amazon and other regions of Brazil.  Since 2002, it has established libraries in 90 rural communities in 20 municipalities in the Amazon and it has trained 1,600 people to manage and direct group readings. The program has benefitted an average of 20,000 children annually, with the distribution of 65,000 books.

For the original press release, click here.