Schwab Charitable announced today that it's launching a program that enables donors to help guarantee microfinance loans to the world's poorest entrepreneurs. The announcement came on a day when more than 3,500 advisors and others are attending Schwab's Impact 2008 conference here in Atlanta.

Schwab Charitable's microfinance guarantee program will allow donors to set aside a portion of their charitable gift accounts to guarantee microfinance loans to poor entrepreneurs to start, maintain or expand small businesses. The new program is designed to allow donors to maximize their charitable impact by putting donated dollars to use as a microfinance guarantee while they are still held in their charitable gift accounts and invested for growth and future granting.  

The program will be launched in phases in response to interest. The first phase will begin with an estimated $20 million to $30 million in guarantees and could help make possible well over 100,000 microloans. The program is being launched in collaboration with Grameen Foundation, a leading microfinance network, and as it grows will evolve to include Developing World Markets, a leading lender to microfinance institutions.

Schwab Charitable says it expects the program to increase the availability and reduce the costs of microfinance loans in more than 25 developing countries.

The Schwab Charitable microfinance guarantee program is optional and available only to Schwab Charitable donors. Donors who agree to participate will recommend that up to 10% of their charitable gift accounts be set aside for a period of 24 months to 36 months to help guarantee microfinance loans. Any funds used to guarantee microloans will stay in their accounts, will continue to be invested for the entire period and will be applied to the guarantee only if the microfinance program has losses in excess of reserves. In addition, Schwab Charitable will report back to participating donors on the social and economic impact that these microfinance loans provide to their various recipients.

"They have secured a tax deduction by making a gift to a donor-advised fund and now they can double their charitable impact by putting the funds to use once as a microfinance guarantee and then a second time as a grant to a completely different cause, said Kim Wright-Violich, president of Schwab Charitable.."

Schwab Charitable has more than $2 billion in assets and $350 million in annual grants.
For more information about Schwab Charitable or the Schwab Charitable microfinance program, visit