Grameen-Jameel Initiative Brokers Multi-Million Dollar Investment in Morocco

Jan 2007
Morocco , January, 17 2007 - Largest Grameen-Jameel Initiative Transaction in the Middle East.

The Grameen-Jameel Initiative, an innovative partnership between Grameen Foundation and the Abdul Latif Jameel Group to promote poverty reduction through microfinance in the Arab World, today announced its largest transaction in the region: a $10.6 million loan to Fondation Zakoura. The loan is being provided in local currency by Société Générale Marocaine de Banques (SGMB) and was secured by $5 million in guarantees ($2.5 million each) from the Grameen Foundation Growth Guarantee Program and the Mohammed Jameel Guarantee Fund.

This is the fifth transaction in the region sourced and closed by the Grameen-Jameel Initiative during the past year and will significantly boost Zakoura’s plans to reach one million clients by 2010. The second largest microfinance institution in the region, it currently reaches 300,000 of Morocco’s poorest families.

“Zakoura’s holistic approach to microfinance enhances its impact, and its projected growth is good news to tens of thousands of poor families, especially those in Morocco’s most remote, rural regions, who will be reached as a result of this transaction,” said Alex Counts, President and CEO of Grameen Foundation. “Zakoura has proven that a strong poverty focus and scaleable growth due to commercial financing are not incompatible; in fact, this may have been the critical variable leading to a track record of success.”

“Our commitment to poverty alleviation in the Arab world through the use of microfinance is unwavering, as it is part of our corporate social responsibility strategy across the region,” said Mohammed Jameel, president of Abdul Latif Jameel Ltd.

“This partnership will allow Zakoura to accelerate its development in 2007. Nevertheless, we will need to be more creative in the coming years to meet the ever growing needs of the microfinance sector in Morocco,” said Aziz Benmaazouz, director of Zakoura.

About the Grameen- Jameel Initiative

The Grameen- Jameel Initiative, a partnership between Grameen Foundation and the Abdul Latif Jameel Group, focuses on strengthening the microfinance industry in the Middle East and North Africa. Launched in 2003, it seeks to support individual MFIs and the Arab microfinance sector through providing direct financing, technical assistance, training, translation and support of the Arab Microfinance Gateway.

Based in Washington, D.C., Grameen Foundation is a global non-profit organization that combines microfinance, technology, and innovation to empower the world's poorest people to escape poverty. It has established a global network of 52 partners in 22 countries that has impacted an estimated 11 million lives in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East. The Foundation was created in 1997, inspired by the work of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. Its Growth Guarantee Program, initially capitalized at $31 million when it was launched in late 2005, is a collaboration with Citigroup that projects leveraging more than $180 million in local currency financing for MFIs globally over the next five years.

The Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) Group, based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is one of the Arab World’s most successful and respected business groups. The ALJ business was founded by the late Sheikh Abdul Latif Jameel in 1945. In 1955, he was granted the sole distributorship for Toyota vehicles in Saudi Arabia which the ALJ Group has maintained ever since. It has an active community services program, which has emphasis on education, training, and development to assist the younger generations to achieve independence and self sustainability. Mohammad Jameel, the son of the founder, is the President of the Group.

About Fondation Zakoura

Zakoura was founded in 1995 as an NGO with the mission to fight poverty and promote civic responsibility. Its main objective is to improve the quality of life of the underprivileged Moroccans that can’t access traditional sources of financing. In addition to loans, it provides workshops on a wide range of issues including legal rights, healthcare and environmental education. Zakoura disbursed since its creation 1.82 million loans for a total value of about $380 million. Zakoura reaches presently more than 300,000 clients, about 80 percent of whom are women.


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