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G7 Statement: Education needs more resources, microfinance can help

By Opportunity International

Ahead of this week’s G7 summit 2017, which is expected to focus on sustainability and reducing inequality, including on education, Nathan Byrd, Global Head of Opportunity International EduFinance, said:

We welcome the G7’s second pillar: their discussions on economic, environmental and social sustainability, and the reduction of inequalities (G7 Priorities). Complete and equal access to education will be a major contributor to poverty reduction and to socio-economic stability.

National governments and the global community have made impressive progress in this respect. But still it is not enough. Population growth makes the challenge harder. We will not achieve the fourth Sustainable Development Goal – inclusive, quality education for all – without serious innovation.

Microfinance can help.

Microfinance is efficient. No other method gets small amounts of money to such large numbers of people. It’s goes direct to where it’s needed. When we lend to schools, they build a new classroom, build toilet blocks and dormitories for girls, or even buy more resources for teachers. When we lend to parents, they send their children to local affordable schools, breaking the cycle of poverty. In both cases, more kids are going to school.

Opportunity EduFinance has helped two million children since 2007 and we plan to help many more.

Microfinance is effective. More than 99 percent of the loans are paid back, so the money gets used again and again. A single loan can be used many times over. It works better than a single donation.

And microfinance could also be transformative. Banks and lenders have been reluctant to lend to schools, because they do not understand the market and because they fear the risk. Through our work and the data that we collect, we are demonstrating accurate levels of risk. Over time, we expect this to encourage more private investment into education, helping to close the serious financing gaps.

To be sure, we are not advocating for private education over state education. As a non-profit, we also dream of a world in which every government provides a quality education for all.

But we have an urgent moral and practical need to educate all of our children. Microfinance is a highly effective way to take education access to scale and at speed.

When the G7 leaders meet in Sicily, May 26-27, to discuss the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, they should know that microfinance is already helping to get an inclusive and quality education for all. But much more needs to be done.”

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