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U.N. Capital Development Fund Partners with SUNY Institutions to Expand Education on Microfinance
UAlbany Center for International Development, University at Buffalo and Levin Institute to work with UNCDF to deliver distance learning course to a broad audience

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 28, 2008) The University at Albany's Center for International Development (CID), the Levin Institute, the University at Buffalo School of Management and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) signed an agreement to expand and extend a microfinance training program that explores why and how microfinance operations grow to provide financial services to poor and low-income people on a sustainable basis.

The Microfinance Distance Learning (MFDL) course, which has been developed for Web, distance learning and classroom delivery, brings together advice and best practices from successful practitioners and institutions around the world, including Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Arab States. With the signing of the agreement, the State University of New York institutions will further develop and deliver the MFDL to a broad audience.

"We are delighted that the Center for International Development has this opportunity to support microfinance institutions throughout the developing world," said Jeffrey D. Straussman, dean of the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. "Through improved skills of their personnel, these small institutions will be able to reach more people with opportunities to better their lives. Offering this course complements CID's practical achievements providing micro-loans and leases."

"The opportunity for SUNY and the Levin Institute to work with the United Nations in helping to inform a new cohort of business leaders, policymakers, and entrepreneurs about the world of micro-finance represents an exciting educational opportunity for us," said Denis Simon, provost of the Levin Institute. "By assisting in the diffusion of knowledge about microfinance, we hope to spark new pockets of growth and development in countries that will benefit greatly from being able to access these new channels of capital."

"Our UNCDF microfinance colleagues invested a lot of time, energy and resources into developing this programme," said Executive Secretary Henriette Keijzers.  "The intention was to promote knowledge of microfinance to as broad an audience as possible, which is now happening through partnerships like this one with SUNY."

"The Microfinance Distance Learning programme represents a significant innovation for organizations engaged in the critical work of creating opportunities for building entrepreneurship and small business in emerging economies," said UB School of Management Dean John M. Thomas. "It is also a unique opportunity for the UB School of Management to apply our expertise in management education to this important goal. We look forward to working with our SUNY partners and the UN Capital Development Fund to make this project a long term, sustainable success."

The Levin Institute, the Center for International Development and the UB School of Management will further develop strategic partnerships to expand the implementation of the training programme - in the U.S. and internationally.  Possible partnerships may include NGOs, governments and development agencies, with the goal of offering training programmes on microfinance using the UNCDF materials. Symposiums on microfinance for academics and businesspeople are also being planned.

The Center for International Development designs and implements international technical assistance and training projects, conducts policy-oriented research, and contributes to both the theory and the practice of international development. Located in Albany, New York and housed within the University at Albany's Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, the Center draws upon the State University of New York's vast intellectual and technical resources and serves as a key component of the university's overall commitment to excellence in international education, cross-cultural exchange, and sustainable development.

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