August 4, 2008, Mexico City.


President Clinton, Carlos Slim Helú Announce $50 Million in New Projects in Mexico, Colombia, and Peru.

Mexico City, Mexico – Today, President Clinton joined philanthropists Frank Giustra and Carlos Slim, along with President of the Inter-American Development Bank Luis Moreno, to announce new projects of the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI) in three countries. The projects will create a new $20 million project to strengthen small- and medium-sized businesses in underserved areas of Colombia; support 50,000 additional cataract surgeries over three years in Peru.

Today’s announcements build on CGSGI projects announced on March 1, 2008, and reflect CGSGI’s focus on core social development issues such as health and education that can unleash economic growth, and specific investments that can generate economic growth in ways that are sustainable by local businesses, communities, and governments.

“CGSGI is working to give people and communities the tools they need to work themselves out of poverty,” said President Clinton. “I’m honored to be working with Frank Giustra, Carlos Slim, Luis Moreno, and our many other partners in the government, NGO, and private sectors, and I’m delighted that we’re launching this work in Latin America, where the income gap between rich and poor is among the largest in the world. The projects we’re announcing today should help improve the lives of thousands of people.”

In Peru, CGSGI and Fundacion Carlos Slim each will provide $5 million – a total of up to $10 million – to enable 50,000 additional cataract surgeries over three years. Cataract surgeries are highly effective and inexpensive, yet cataracts remain the number one cause of blindness in the developing world, according to WHO statistics. Last year, the Government of Peru reported 83,000 untreated cataract cases and provided 12,100 cataract surgeries between September 2007 and August 2008, while 16,000 additional cases were discovered. In contrast, cataract surgery is the most frequently performed operation in developed countries, with two million operations performed each year in the United States alone. Working in partnership with the Peruvian Ministry of Health, leading NGOs in the health sector, and physicians groups in Peru, CGSGI and Fundacion Carlos Slim will address this inequality by supporting the costs of medical equipment and supplies, personnel, and transportation for 10,000 cataract surgeries in year one, 15,000 in year two, and 25,000 in year three. These surgeries will restore vision – and productivity – for thousands of people, with positive consequences for their families and communities.

“President Clinton and I share a strong commitment to expanding economic opportunity and alleviating poverty in Latin America,” said Carlos Slim. “I’m happy to be launching these projects with the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative to improve health, education, job creation, and incomes in Peru and Colombia. This builds on my Foundation’s long-standing work to improve lives in Mexico and Latin America.” Slim has pledged $20 million for education projects in Mexico.

In Colombia, CGSGI and Fundacion Carlos Slim each are providing $10 million to create a new $20 million project that will have as its centerpiece a fund that will make investments in existing microenterprises and small and medium-sized businesses in areas of Colombia that are currently underserved by existing investment funds, and that are seeking to expand or scale up, with the aim of enabling sustainable job creation and income generation. The Inter-American Development Bank will provide critical knowledge of the financial landscape in Colombia and will consider contributing up to $5 million in additional capital to the fund.  It is expected that the fund will grow in size as additional investors and partners join. Although the Colombian stock market has risen fourteen-fold since 2001, 22 million Colombians still live in poverty. Thirty-percent of the Colombian labor force is employed by small- and medium-sized enterprises, which cite access to financing as their primary constraint on development and diversification. The significant, innovative project announced today will empower small- and medium-sized businesses to grow and prosper, and enrich their communities.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are often the lifeblood of a community, and their success is essential to sustaining economic growth and generating income for families,” Luis Moreno, head of the Inter-American Development Bank. “We are proud to be a part of CGSGI’s efforts to provide underserved businesses with funding that will empower them to prosper and enrich their communities.”

Established in June 2007, CGSGI is an innovative partnership between the William J. Clinton Foundation, the private sector, governments, local communities, and other NGOs to increase the scope, scale, impact, and sustainability of social and economic development efforts in countries where the natural resource industries are an important part of the economy. Acting as an honest broker and multi-faceted partner, CGSGI is focused on market-driven development that creates jobs and increases incomes, and on enabling factors such as health and education.

In addition to the core support of Frank Giustra, CGSGI has received the generous backing of Carlos Slim, who has committed $100 million for approved projects in Latin America, and Lukas Lundin, who has committed $100 million for joint projects in Africa. CGSGI also has received financial support and endorsements from dozens of entrepreneurs and leading companies in the natural resources and affiliated sectors.

About the Clinton Foundation

President Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission to strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence. To advance this mission, the Foundation works with like-minded organizations and forms partnerships with national and local governments around the world to make an immediate and measurable impact in several areas, including bringing HIV/AIDS care and treatment to underserved populations, developing sustainable economic growth in Africa and fighting global climate change. The Clinton Global Initiative brings together a community of leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues. In the United States, the Foundation is working to combat the alarming rise in childhood obesity and is helping to expand economic opportunity for families and individuals. To learn more, visit www.clintonfoundation.org.

 


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