Jonathan C. Lewis - Chief Executive Officer, MicroCredit Enterprises, Davis, California
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David Roodman - Research Fellow, Center for Global Development
Jonathan Lewis will described a new, not-for-profit business model that leverages private capital to make microfinance loans in developing countries. Donor individuals and institutions transfer assets into a fund managed by MicroCredit Enterprises, which uses them as collateral to borrow in the United States and on-lend it to locally run, non-governmental microfinance organizations overseas. All assets remain the property of the investors; they are guarantors, not donors. The model per se is in the public domain, so that other organizations can copy it. In January, Credito con Educacion Rural (CRECER) in Bolivia became the first recipient of a MicroCredit Enterprises loan. CRECER has 68,000 women clients, 70% of whom live in the mountainous Andes, with a repayment rate of 99.6% and average loan size of $185. Lewis also took questions on emerging issues in microfinance, particularly in connection with the growing private-sector interest.
In addition to being CEO of MicroCredit Enterprises, Lewis is the Managing Chair of Freedom from Hunger’s Ambassadors Council. Prior to retiring in 2001, he was founder and President of the Academy for International Health Studies, a policy and networking business organization. He founded the International Summit on the Private Health Sector. He was chief budget advisor to the President of the California State Senate and founder/owner of a public policy consulting firm, a real estate investment company, a public interest citizens’ group on tax reform, and a contemporary art gallery.