Sheila Maconald, Chief Operating Officer at the Co-operative Bank met Former US President Bill Clinton in New York to help launch the largest microfinance loan fund of its kind.
The initiative – Global Commercial Microfinance Consortium (GCMC) – will distribute $75 million (£ 43m) of funding to microfinance institutions providing financial services to poor people. The GCMC is a new model of microfinance that will see the largest number of institutional investors and development agencies brought together in one consortium.
The Co-operative Bank has invested $5m to the fund, which also consists of equity and capital from several multinational corporations, private investors, charitable foundations and development agencies from the US, French and British governments. Finance from GCMC will initially go to India, Pakistan, Columbia, Nicaragua, Peru, Mozambique, Kosovo and Azerbaijan where the very smallest of businesses are major contributors to local economies.
Ms Macdonald said: "This is a landmark investment for the Co-operative Bank, which will see us directly investing in overseas development for the first time in our history.
"Our customers money is now being used to help communities raise themselves out of poverty, encouraging co-operative values of self-help and self-responsibility."