Gates gives $34 mln grant for insurance for poor

Dec 2007
Geneva, Switzerland, December, 06 2007 - The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is providing a $34 million grant that should help at least 25 million poor people have access to insurance coverage by 2012, the International Labour Organisation said on Thursday.

The new Microinsurance Innovation Facility aims to offer a range of products to help workers manage economic hardship brought on by factors such as drought, death of a breadwinner, or hospitalisation, it said.

"By 2012, at least 25 million people living in poverty will have access to insurance coverage that they otherwise would not have," the ILO, a United Nations agency, said in a statement.

Grants and technical assistance will be provided to channels such as NGOs and credit unions to develop insurance products for low-income and rural households and also encourage the emergence of institutional models, it said.

"We hope the Microinsurance Innovation Facility will catalyse dozens of new, innovative approaches to offering and delivering microinsurance services," said Bob Christen, director of the Gates Foundation's financial services for the poor initiative. Several billion people worldwide lack access to insurance, according to the ILO's Craig Churchill.

"Microfinance has been on the radar a long time. But it has been much more focused on increasing income and creating jobs, and less on the protection side -- helping people to manage risks and cope with losses," Churchill told Reuters.


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