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Commitment to Unleash Economic Opportunity for Adolescent Girls in Liberia

NEW YORK (September 26, 2008) – As the first Commitment featured at the Opening Plenary of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting Wednesday, Former President William Clinton announced the Adolescent Girls Initiative, an innovative public-private partnership between the World Bank, the country of Liberia and the Nike Foundation. Those present to announce the partnership included Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Maria Eitel, President of the Nike Foundation. Also joining in the Commitment, though not present, is Ulla Tørnæs, Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation.

This significant Commitment and collaboration, which will be launched at the World Bank on 10 October, aims to increase economic opportunities for adolescent girls as part of the effort to reconstruct Liberia after 14 years of war.

The program targets girls specifically because of the girl effect – the ability of adolescent girls in developing countries to bring unprecedented economic and social change to their families, communities and countries. For example, research has shown that girls and women will reinvest 90% of their income back into their families, as compared to 35-40% for males. Because girls are central to the intergenerational transfer of wealth the collaboration intends to focus on programs and services designed specifically for them.

“We are thrilled to have the support of the World Bank, Denmark and the Nike Foundation and expect this collaboration to serve as a model for Africa and the world. As powerful economic actors, girls represent our nation’s future; this partnership is essential to Liberia’s post-conflict recovery,” explains President Johnson Sirleaf.

The Adolescent Girls Initiative will identify employment needs in Liberia, and provide relevant skills training to adolescent girls, matched to paying jobs. The training offered to girls aged between 16 and 24 will focus on technical skills, as well as the integration of life-skills training to address some of the crucial barriers to the development of adolescent girls’ economic independence. Employment in high-growth and high-need sectors, such as agriculture, entrepreneurship, emerging industries, urban services, infrastructure, public works and health care, is a major focus. Initially designed to reach 1,500 adolescent girls and young women, the partners aim to see the work brought to scale in Liberia and replicated in other developing countries.

“There’s a strong argument for investing in girls. Economic opportunity – particularly that of adolescent girls – is crucial to generating the incentives that reverse inequality and break intergenerational cycles of poverty,” says Okonjo-Iweala. “By working in partnership, we can make great strides in improving the livelihoods of adolescent girls, their families and communities – in Liberia and elsewhere.”

“Our partners in this initiative are pioneers. They are among the leading organizations who recognize adolescent girls’ potential to impact entire nations,” says Eitel. “Much like microfinance practitioners did decades ago when proving the credit-worthiness of the poor, we intend to demonstrate an irrational gap in the market that severely undervalues adolescent girls’ economic potential. It will be girls who rebuild a nation.”

The Liberia investment is the first step in an initiative to see high-leverage investments in adolescent girls replicated in other countries with additional donor governments, foundations and private-sector partners.

About Nike and the Nike FoundationNIKE, Inc. ( (NYSE: NKE) based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world's leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. The Nike Foundation ( is a non-profit organization supported by NIKE, Inc., that is dedicated to investing in adolescent girls as the most powerful force for change in the developing world.

About tells the story of girls creating a ripple impact on their families, communities and nations. Created by the Nike Foundation, it provides the tools for girl champions to spread the word.

About the World Bank and the Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI)

The World Bank is one of the world's largest sources of funding for the developing world. Its primary focus is on helping the poorest people and the poorest countries. To help break inter-generational cycles of poverty, the World Bank together with member governments and partners such as the Nike Foundation is launching a new public-private initiative for adolescent girls, seeking to smooth the transition from school to salaried jobs. In a pilot phase, a first project in Liberia will be followed in at least five other countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)Established in 2005 as a project of the non-partisan William J. Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI members have made nearly 1,000 Commitments to Action valued at upwards of $30 billion to improve more than 200 million lives in over 150 countries around the world. Through past Annual Meetings, CGI has brought together more than 80 current and former heads of state, hundreds of top CEOs and nonprofit leaders, major philanthropists, and 10 of the last 16 Nobel Peace Prize laureates. For further information, please feel free to contact