World Bank, Shakira join forces to aid young children

WASHINGTON, February 22, 2010 (AFP) – The World Bank and Grammy Award-winning singer Shakira teamed up Monday in a 300-million-dollar joint initiative aimed at helping young children in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Colombian artist is the founder of ALAS, a coalition of Latin American artists and business leaders that promotes early childhood development programs in the region.

“If we want to build a better world, we have to give children the chance to improve their lives, no matter where they are born or how difficult their circumstances. By giving every child a fair start in life, we are improving our collective future,” Shakira told an audience of 100 ambassadors, officials and representatives of other international organizations.

The initiative will provide 300 million dollars over the next two years in loans, grants and trust fund resources, as well as technical support, towards the design and implementation of child development policies in Latin America and the Caribbean, the 186-nation development lender said. World Bank president Robert Zoellick and the Colombian artist, representing her ALAS Foundation, signed an agreement launching the “Early Childhood Initiative: An Investment for Life” at the