IKEA Foundation to help 180,000 get safe water

The IKEA Foundation awarded Water.org $6 million to help people access safe water through two innovative programs: WaterCredit, a microfinance program that gives families small loans to meet their water and sanitation needs, and the New Ventures Fund to search for new solutions to the global water crisis.

Press Release

IKEA FOUNDATION AWARDS € 4.7 MILLION ($6.3 MILLION) TO WATER.ORG

Nearly 180,000 people empowered with access to safe water and sanitation

KANSAS CITY, MO (JANUARY 21, 2014) – Water.org today announced that the IKEA Foundation has awarded € 4.7 million ($6.3 million) to improve the health and well-being of nearly 180,000 vulnerable people in Bangladesh by ensuring they can access safe water and sanitation. More specifically, the IKEA Foundation's grant will allow Water.org to help people in Bangladesh gain access to safe drinking water through two innovative programs: WaterCredit, a microfinance program that gives families small loans to meet their water and sanitation needs, and the New Ventures Fund to search for new solutions to the global water and sanitation crisis.

"The IKEA Foundation's support represents the first time a corporate foundation has funded both our proven WaterCredit model as well as the design of new, innovative models through our New Ventures Fund," said Gary White, Water.org Co-Founder and CEO. "By supporting the development of game-changing approaches, the IKEA Foundation is setting the bar for how companies can drive the critical innovation needed to end the water and sanitation crisis."

WaterCredit by Water.org puts microfinance tools to work in the water and sanitation sector, empowering the world's most vulnerable with access to small loans to meet their water and sanitation needs – enabling a life of health, economic opportunity and dignity. An investment in WaterCredit reaches five to ten times as many people as a traditional grant over a ten-year period. To date, Water.org has invested US $8 million (€ 5.8 million) in philanthropic capital in WaterCredit, which has in turn leveraged US $40 million (€ 29.2 million) in commercial capital. Additionally, WaterCredit has made it possible for more than one million people in five countries to gain access to safe water or sanitation.

Per Heggenes, IKEA Foundation CEO said, "The IKEA Foundation believes that every child deserves a healthy start in life, so we are supporting Water.org's innovative programmes to help families in Bangladesh access safe drinking water and better sanitation facilities, giving them improved health and a life of dignity."

"Of all the things that keep people in the death spiral of extreme poverty, water is so huge. And, it doesn't have to be this way," said Matt Damon, Co-founder, Water.org. "Thanks to visionary partners like the IKEA Foundation, we will empower the world's most vulnerable with access to safe water and sanitation, enabling a life of health, economic opportunity and dignity."

About IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in the world's poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programs that can create substantial, lasting change. The Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child's life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and sustainable family income. Currently-funded programs benefit an estimated 100 million children by 2015. Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org and www.facebook.com/IKEAfoundation.

About Water.org

For more than two decades, Water.org has been at the forefront of developing and delivering solutions to the water crisis. Founded by Gary White and Matt Damon, Water.org pioneers innovative, community-driven and market-based initiatives to ensure all people have access to safe water and sanitation; giving women hope, children health and communities a future. To date, Water.org has positively transformed the lives of more than a million individuals living around the world; ensuring a better life for generations ahead. Learn more at http://water.org and www.facebook.com/water.

About WaterCredit

WaterCredit is an initiative of Water.org that puts microfinance tools to use in the water and sanitation sector. It is the first comprehensive program of its kind in the world that connects the microfinance, water and sanitation communities to scale up access to credit and capital for individual- and household-based water and sanitation needs across multiple countries. In turn, the WaterCredit partnership model and financing mechanisms serve to channel and redeploy financial resources more efficiently and effectively to enable increasing numbers of people to meet their drinking water and sanitation needs. Learn more at http://water.org/watercredit.

About the New Ventures Fund

Launched in 2011, the New Ventures Fund accelerates the pace of progress by financing a portfolio of innovative solutions to the water and sanitation crisis. The New Ventures Fund is Water.org's principal source of funding to discover, deliver and drive innovative solutions to the water and sanitation crisis. Learn more at http://water.org/new-ventures.

CONTACT: Rosemary Gudelj, 816.877.8461, rgudelj@water.org

Capital city: Dhaka
Population of 166 million
27.9 million lack safe water
74.8 million do not have improved sanitation services
Infant mortality rate of 4.5%
31.5% live in poverty

Water.org provides innovative, market-based solutions that change lives every day through safe water and sanitation.

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