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November 08, 2005

Omidyar Donates $100 mill to Micro-finance

My old university, Tufts, has been donated $100 million from Pam and Pierre Omidyar "to be invested exclusively in international microfinance initiatives".

Microfinance has been gaining widespread attention since Muhammad Yunus set up Grameen Bank in Bangladesh about a decade ago, successfully enabling thousands of mainly female entrepreneurs to set up business on commercial loans of only a few hundred dollars, loans that other banks were not willing to underwrite.

The donation is from Pam and Pierre Omidyar personally, not the Omidyar Network, and it is a gift to Tufts, not to a group of microfinance enablers. Yet, where typical university gifts are for stadiums, academic programs og libraries (I remember the Tisch Library at Tufts), this is a donation in the spirit of the Omidyar Network. Tufts will indeed act as an institutional investor as it is common for US universities (Harvard has an endowment of $25.9 billion), collecting a 50% carry on the interest on loans, but the Omidyars have earmarked the gift to, in the words of the Omidyar Network's mission, "[foster] individual self-empowerment on a global scale".

Less is more. Now there is more to do more with less.

Bonus links: Along with Pam and Pierre Omidyar themselves, Tufts University is also the alma matter of notables like Joi Ito, Meg Hourihan, Costas Caramanlis (Greek prime minister), and many more.

Posted by Nikolaj Nyholm at November 8, 2005 08:57 AM

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