Award Winning Approach to Combating Poverty

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GBF is pleased to announce a feature in the March 2011 issue of Upsides Magazine, a prominent finance and sustainable development publication.

Award Winning Approach to Combating Poverty

By Gary Rudland

THE GRASSROOTS BUSINESS FUND (GBF) was chosen as one of the winners of the G-20 SME Finance Challenge. A great honour for a great organisation. ‘GBF’s aim is to try and improve the economic lot of the poor at the base of the pyramid.’

GBF provides loans and investments to companies and SMEs in parts of the world where other financial institutions do not operate. In this way, it has improved the lives of literally millions of people. What makes GBF so special is that it is not a traditional microfinance institution, but goes out looking for relatively large-scale entrepreneurs. In addition to providing loans and investments, GBF also supplies technical assistance to farmers and other groups. It identifies candidates at the ground level, such as milk and grain producers who are not yet commercially viable and do not qualify for bank loans, but are too large for microfi nance. GBF brings these producers up to a commercial level, making them viable candidates for private investment.

‘GBF’s aim is to try to improve economic opportunities for the poor at the base of the pyramid,’ says executive director, Harold Rosen. ‘We do this by helping existing businesses to generate additional income and create greater social impact. This in turn gives people access to the resources necessary to get out of poverty sustainably. We don’t do start-ups but we do get involved in the early stages of business expansion and pilot businesses.’

This unique approach has recently gained international recognition with GBF being named as one of only 14 winners of the G20 SME Finance Challenge. This first competition ever launched by the G20 attracted more than 350 contenders from around the world. It aimed to find the best and most innovative models for public-private partnerships that catalyse finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

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