ACCION International, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that specializes in providing microfinance services to poor people around the world, said that it has received a three-year grant of $5.8 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to introduce savings account products to under-banked populations in Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador.As a result, ACCION said in a press release that it anticipates that the initiative will reach more than a million savings clients in five years and that ACCION will develop a proven, replicable savings model for Latin America.
ACCION was one of several groups to receive grants from the Gates Foundation. (Bill Gates appears at right in an AP file photo.)
In a statement, Bob Christen, the foundation's director of financial services for the poor, said: "This signature package of grants represents our first bold effort with the microfinance community to provide poor people safe places to save their money. We see it as a major step to drive change and help broaden the microfinance business model to include savings."