MasterCard and Gates Foundations Fund Microfinance in Africa

American small business owners take microfinance for granted, especially when swiping credit cards for office supplies or deductible lunch meetings. In Africa, however, a small business loan can mean the difference between living in poverty and building a thriving community. A pair of large donations from the MasterCard Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help a non-profit organization develop the infrastructure and the funding necessary to support sub-Saharan entrepreneurs.

The foundations announced matching grants of $8 million each to Opportunity International, an innovative charity with the mission of helping people "work their way out of poverty in the developing world." Instead of traditional grants and food drops, Opportunity International uses its funding to invest in financial education and business development for clients in 25 countries.

Program participants use startup funds and technology to employ their neighbors, streamline delivery of food and clean water, and build the foundations of personal savings. Opportunity's international connections can help some entrepreneurs find export partners for even larger business growth.

About the Author


Joe Taylor Jr. is an internal business consultant for a Fortune 500 company, who writes about finance, culture, and design. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Ithaca College.