Announced during the opening plenary of the 2011 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, the funding boosts the foundation's support for BRAC's efforts in Uganda to nearly $45 million since October 2008, when it awarded $19.6 million to enable the organization to open fifty-one new branches serving two million Ugandans. Building on a shared commitment to learning and strengthening the field of microfinance, the partnership will enable BRAC to expand the capacity of its Uganda research and evaluation unit to undertake longitudinal analyses of the effectiveness of the organization's integrated microfinance and livelihoods model. That data, in turn, will allow BRAC to conduct sub-sector analyses on various aspects of its program.
Although Uganda has a competitive microfinance market, most microfinance providers are concentrated in urban areas. In contrast, most of the rural poor — the majority of Ugandans — are small-scale farmers who lack access to finance, agricultural inputs, and markets. To date, the BRAC program has provided loans to approximately 110,000 borrowers, training and access to high-quality agricultural inputs to 50,000 farmers, productivity-enhancing services to 124,000 poultry and livestock rearers, and access to basic health services to more than 1.5 million people. In addition, BRAC is working to empower 32,000 adolescent girls and young people from poor and marginal households, providing them with education, training, and access to financial services.
"The MasterCard Foundation aims to scale innovative microfinance programs in Africa to improve the lives of people living in poverty," said Reeta Roy, president and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation. "BRAC's holistic approach integrates microfinance and livelihood services to help women become productive economically and build assets to benefit their families."