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eBay Founder Establishes Microfinance Partnership With Tufts University

eBay Founder Establishes Microfinance Partnership With Tufts University

Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay and co-founder of Omidyar Network, together with his wife, Pam, has made a $100 million gift to Tufts University to be invested in international microfinance initiatives. The gift is the largest allocation of capital to microfinance from an individual or family, as well as the single largest gift ever received by Tufts, according to university officials.

“Microloans enable the poor to lift themselves out of poverty through entrepreneurship,” says Omidyar. “The microfinance industry has shown that enabling the poor to empower themselves economically can be a profitable business. With the Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund, we’re responding to the industry’s need for capital to meet the demand for financial services among the world’s poor. At the same time, we hope to demonstrate the potential of microfinance to institutional investors.”

The $100 million Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund serves three purposes. The fund will demonstrate the potential of microfinance investments for institutional investors; support the Omidyars’ alma mater; and potentially stimulate at least $1 billion in new microloans over the next decade.

The fund will bolster microfinance institutions that make loans to those who lack access to traditional financial services. Microfinance clients are typically poor, female entrepreneurs. Microloans averaging $600 (often as low as $40) enable the recipients to grow their businesses, increase their income and lift themselves out of poverty.

“Partnering with the Omidyars to advance microfinance is a strategic fit for Tufts on many levels,” says Dr. Larry S. Bacow, the university’s president. “As an economist, I’m attracted to microfinance as a financially self-sustaining model for making a difference in the world. Tufts’ commitment to active citizenship is a global pursuit that runs deep, and we’re pleased to leverage resources that yield so many positive returns.”

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