Marketwire - Opportunity International and the Caterpillar Foundation, the charitable arm of global equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc., today announced the successful culmination of its 2010 Corporate Giving Challenge raising $2 million in total donations. The Caterpillar Foundation also announced a new pledge to match an additional $1 million in new business and corporate donations to Opportunity International in 2011. These new contributions will help fund Opportunity International's 'Banking on Africa' initiative, which will develop a network of banks to address the capital infrastructure needs of poor communities in Africa.
'Part of the Caterpillar Foundation's mission is to support programs that foster sustainable humanity. Access to affordable financial services is vital to this mission because it helps lift people out of poverty, creates sustainable employment and teaches entrepreneurs to manage their businesses,' said Caterpillar Inc. Corporate Public Affairs Director Jim Baumgartner. 'We are proud to work alongside organizations such as Opportunity International to bring safe, affordable financial services to the world's most marginalized citizens and entrepreneurs.'
During the Opportunity International Microfinance Conference held October 8-9, 2010, the Caterpillar Foundation announced a year-end corporate challenge whereby the Foundation would match each dollar contributed by new corporate donors, prior to the end of the year. The aggressive Corporate Giving Challenge garnered $1 million in new donations from small businesses and corporations. The new donations made by businesses and large corporations will be used to support the expansion of microsavings, microinsurance and affordable business lending throughout more than 20 countries served by Opportunity International.
'We are grateful for the businesses that have joined us in supporting Opportunity International by making new donations to the organization,' said Caterpillar Foundation Vice President Will Ball. 'Through their commitment to invest in sustainable philanthropic organizations like Opportunity International, it is evident that these businesses truly understand the need for access to financial services, such as small business loans and savings accounts.'
Opportunity International provides an array of non-profit financial services to entrepreneurs in developing countries, including personal savings, small business insurance, lending and education. These programs are designed to help individuals achieve financial freedom and gain the self-sufficiency needed to expand their businesses, create jobs and support the economic stability of their communities. Through its 'Banking on Africa' initiative, Opportunity International is providing much-needed access to financial services in rural areas to both agricultural and non-agricultural communities. Over the next three years, the organization expects to open 1.4 million interest-bearing savings accounts in Africa, with 950,000 of those accounts based in rural areas.
'Opportunity International's partnerships with organizations like the Caterpillar Foundation, and the small businesses and corporations that participated in the Corporate Giving Challenge, are crucial to our ability to successfully serve the poor in developing countries,' said Bill Morgenstern, Opportunity International CEO. 'We are grateful to The Caterpillar Foundation for their leadership and investment in our organization, which enables us to provide greater access to savings accounts, business loans and other financial products and services that help entrepreneurs mitigate risk, stimulate cash flow and ultimately build businesses that fuel the kind of economic growth that will strengthen their communities.'
About The Caterpillar Foundation
The Caterpillar Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Caterpillar Inc., the world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment. Founded in 1952, the Caterpillar Foundation has contributed nearly $400 million to help make sustainable progress possible around the world by providing program support in the areas of environmental sustainability, access to education and basic human needs. More information is available at www.caterpillar.com/foundation.
About Opportunity International
Opportunity International provides access to savings accounts, small business loans, insurance and training to over two million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world. Clients in more than 20 countries use these financial services to start or expand a business, provide for their families, create jobs for their neighbors and build a safety net for the future. For more information, visit www.opportunity.org.