How humanitarian and faith-based groups play a key role in development
Faith-based groups are in the spotlight this week as Pope Francis visits Washington to meet with political leaders and discuss some of the world’s major challenges from poverty to climate change. Rising above the complex politics of global religion, faith-based organizations with a focus on sustainable development have often been able to find common ground with more secular groups in addressing major social and environmental challenges.
In its work addressing major development challenges around the world, OPIC has often partnered with humanitarian and faith-based groups and other organizations with strong social missions. Some of the work these partnerships have helped progress include:
- Humanitarian support. One longtime OPIC partner is the International Rescue Committee (IRC), one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations, which responds to humanitarian crises around the world by addressing vital nutrition, health care, housing and subsistence farming needs, and uses OPIC political risk insurance to support its work. In Iraq, OPIC political risk insurance has helped IRC rebuild schools that reach nearly 50,000 students. In South Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees have fled decades of war and food shortages, OPIC supported IRC in its work to stem gender-based violence and provide health care and child survival programs.
- Microfinance lending. OPIC along with MEDA Investments, an arm of Mennonite Economic Development Associates, are supporting MicroVest Capital Management, a microfinance institution that has supported microloans to 4.9 million clients in 62 countries around the world over the past decade. OPIC also provides financing along with MEDA to The Sarona Fund, an ethically-responsible equity investor in private equity funds that support small and medium enterprises in frontier markets.
- Housing for the poor. OPIC committed $45 million in support to Microbuild, a subsidiary of Habitat for Humanity International, a Christian ecumenical nonprofit dedicated to providing adequate, affordable housing worldwide.
- Impact investing. Thrivent Funds, a Christian financial services firm, is a private sector participant for OPIC’s investment guaranties. OPIC’s history of both socially-responsible and development-minded investing fits with Thrivent’s asset management philosophy.
- Medical support. OPIC provided $30 million in financing to the Aga Khan hospital in Karachi, Pakistan to expand their neonatal and pediatric units, medical education, child care center and other modernizations. Aga Khan Foundation is a non-religious organization that is underpinned by the ethical principles of Islam, including charity, alleviating poverty and concern for human dignity.