Hunter Douglas Inc, manufacturer of window coverings and architectural products, based in Upper Saddle River, N.J., is funding an endowment to reduce global poverty by promoting entrepreneurial activity. The newly named Hunter Douglas Endowment for Microfinance Sustainability, operated by MicroCredit Enterprises, in Sacramento, Calif., is a not-for-profit venture which leverages private capital in the United States to make tiny business loans to very poor in developing countries, 91 percent of whom are women.

Loan recipients generally have no credit history, no collateral and no formal education, but with microloans they are enabled to create and build home-based businesses. By providing economic opportunity, the program invests in “character collateral,” that is, the desire of mothers to feed their children and the determination and grit of parents to build futures for their families, according to a press release from Hunter Douglas.

“Micofinance is a proven concept that is close to our entrepreneurial roots. Microcredit’s innovative approach opens up a new way for successful entrepreneurs in the First World, to support poor women entrepreneurs in the Third World, and we regard this endowment as an opportunity to help jumpstart that process,” said Hunter Douglas President and CEO Marv Hopkins. “It is a significant step in our company’s ongoing commitment to enhancing lives in the community at large and our belief that we are all neighbors on this small planet.”

The Hunter Douglas donation to the endowment will leverage $10 million in overseas microloans, providing food security for 500,000 poor people (60 percent of whom are children) on an annual basis and in perpetuity.