UN development arm offers up to $500,000 to entrepreneurs who promote conservation

19 April 2005

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today launches a loan and grant programme to help small- and medium-sized businesses conserve biodiversity at the same time as they reduce poverty.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today launches a loan and grant programme to help small- and medium-sized businesses conserve biodiversity at the same time as they reduce poverty.

Over the next 18 months, the initiative, called Equator Ventures, will disburse “loan investments” of $30,000 to $500,000 in a pilot programme, starting today, and will provide expertise in building enterprises, it said.

Equator Ventures will disburse funds provided by UNDP, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of development banks and UN agricultural and industrializing agencies, the World Bank, the Government of Japan, the Dutch DOEN Foundation, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, UNDP said.

“Equator Ventures is dedicated to showing that small entrepreneurs are a key link in the chain towards achieving sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Grassroots entrepreneurship, through its ability to bring great environmental benefits while also raising incomes, has the potential to transform the way we think about development,” said Jeffrey Sachs, head of the poverty-reducing UN Millennium Project.

The MDGs, agreed on at a UN summit in September 2000, are designed to reduce socio-economic ills significantly by 2015.

The new loan and grant programme, to be administered by the UNDP-led Equator Initiative, aims to carry out the recommendations of a recent report sponsored by the agency called “Unleashing Entrepreneurship: Making Business Work for the Poor.”

“The Equator Ventures partnership fills a critical niche by addressing a major gap in sustainable development finance that goes beyond microfinance, on the one hand, and project finance on the other,” said Olav Kjorven, Director of UNDP Energy and Environment Group.

 

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