The IRIS Center
The IRIS Center ceased operations in 2012.
IRIS is a non-profit policy research and advisory center dedicated to facilitating economic growth and improving governance in developing and transition countries. Located in the Economics Department at the University of Maryland, College Park, IRIS partners with international donors, foundations, reformers, and scholars to conduct research, design and implement programs, and promote the sharing and application of innovative ideas. Based in economics, but taking an interdisciplinary approach, IRIS focuses on the role of institutions--the formal and informal rules by which individuals organize economic, political, and social activity. IRIS's main areas of expertise include economic and institutional analysis, enterprise development, governance and civil society, and legal and regulatory reform.
Microfinance Opportunities is a client-driven microenterprise resource center that seeks to increase poor people's access to high-quality financial services through action-research, training, and technical assistance to microfinance institutions. A non-profit established in 2002, Microfinance Opportunities focuses on financial education, risk management innovations including microinsurance, and client assessment, which includes market research and impact assessment. To achieve its objectives, Microfinance Opportunities forms partnerships and works collaboratively with a range of local and international partners, including Freedom from Hunger, The MicroInsurance Centre, and MicroSave. Microfinance Opportunities is based in Washington, D.C.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to promote greater equity in four areas: global health, education, public libraries, and support for at-risk families in Washington state and Oregon. The foundation joins local, national, and international partners to ensure that advances in these areas reach those who need them most. The microfinance grants are part of the foundation's Strategic Opportunities division, which includes special opportunities and potential new areas of giving. Based in Seattle, the foundation was created in January 2000, through a merger of the Gates Learning Foundation, which worked to expand access to technology through public libraries, and the William H. Gates Foundation, which focused on improving global health. Led by Bill Gates' father, William H. Gates Sr., and Patty Stonesifer, the foundation has an endowment of approximately $31.7 billion.