Microfinance Leader Awarded Prestigious IDB Prize for Latin American Development

ACCION Wins Inter-American Development Bank’s First “Juscelino Kubitschek Award”

Boston, MA, April 30, 2009– ACCION® International, a pioneer and leader in microfinance, today announced that it has been awarded the Inter-American Development Bank’s “Juscelino Kubitschek Award” for its contributions to economic and financial development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

ACCION was recognized by the IDB specifically for its work in microfinance – the provision of small, working-capital loans, savings products and other financial tools designed to help people work their way out of poverty with dignity and pride.

Created to mark the 50th anniversary of the IDB’s founding, the award drew nominations from 145 organizations representing 22 countries in the Americas and Europe.  It is the largest award granted by a multilateral institution in Latin American and the Caribbean, and carries with it a prize of $100,000.

According to the IDB, ACCION was selected for the magnitude of its social impact in the region, which began in Latin America in 1961 with community-development projects in Venezuela.  ACCION first experimented with microlending in Recife, Brazil as early as 1973.   Other pioneering work has included the creation of the first international network of microfinance institutions (MFIs), in 1983; the first loan guarantee fund for MFIs, in 1984; and the founding, in 1992, of Bolivia’s BancoSol, the first private commercial bank for the poor.  Today, the network of partner microfinance institutions it helped to found delivers financial services to nearly 3 million entrepreneurial poor across the region.

ACCION continues to expand its regional poverty-alleviation work through a variety of innovative programs.  Funded by a recent IDB grant, it is working with five of its long-term Latin American partners to provide tailored financial services and training in rural environments.  It has also, with partner BancoSol, recently established the first of its ‘iLabs’ – microfinance testing grounds for piloting new low-cost ways for delivering financial services to the poor.

“This award is testimony to the vision of our Latin American partners and colleagues, whose deep commitment to equality and inclusion have created better lives for millions in their countries,” said María Otero, president and CEO of ACCION. “We are profoundly honored, and deeply grateful, to be recognized this way.”

Other prize winners in this first edition of the award were Fe y Alegría of the Dominican Republic, which manages education and social-promotion programs in 17 countries; and Vaga Lume of Brazil, a nonprofit that promotes cultural and educational development of rural communities in the Amazon.  The two organizations will share the prize for the award’s social, cultural and scientific category.

The award is named for Juscelino Kubitschek, president of Brazil from 1956 to 1961 and the visionary behind the creation of the IDB, the foremost multilateral development institution serving the Americas.  The selection committee was comprised of IDB president Luis Alberto Moreno, acting as chair, secretary general Enrique V. Iglesias, acting as secretary, and seven other leading Latin American development specialists, including three former heads of state.  More information on the prize is available here: http://www.iadb.org/news/detail.cfm?language=English&id=5368

Accion is a private, nonprofit organization with the mission of giving people the financial tools they need – microenterprise loans, business training and other financial services – to work their way out of poverty.  A world pioneer in microfinance, ACCION was founded in 1961 and issued its first microloan in 1973 in Brazil.  Accion’s partner microfinance institutions today are providing loans as low as $100 to poor men and women entrepreneurs in 23 countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the United States.  In the last decade alone, ACCION partners have disbursed more than 28.5 million loans totaling $23.4 billion; 97 percent of the loans have been repaid.  Selected for the fifth consecutive year for its pioneering approaches to poverty alleviation, ACCION was among 45 organizations awarded the 2008 Social Capitalist Award by Fast Company Magazine/Monitor Group.  ACCION has also been awarded Charity Navigator’s highest rating – four stars – for efficiency and sound fiscal management, for the second consecutive year.  For more information, visitwww.accion.org.

ACCION® is a registered trademark of Accion.

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Bruce MacDonald
SVP, Communications
Tel: +1-617-625-7080, x1245