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What is Grameen Foundation?

Grameen Foundation is a global nonprofit that helps the world’s poorest people reach their full potential by providing access to essential financial services and information on agriculture and health. We also develop tools to improve the effectiveness of poverty-focused organizations.

We work to harness the underappreciated strengths of the poor, an approach inspired by Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Four principles guide our work in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean:

  1. Addressing the needs of the world’s poorest—people living on less than $1.25/day—as part of our efforts to assist the poor at all levels.
  2. Delivering services via mobile phones and other technology.
  3. Focusing on outcomes for the poor via targeted and affordable interventions created with a wide range of partners.
  4. Catalyzing wide-scale adoption of new solutions to poverty.

Our collaborative approach to poverty alleviation recognizes the multidimensional and complex nature of global poverty. We work with private sector companies, non-governmental organizations, government agencies and others to ensure we achieve lasting impact in the regions where we work.

We are headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in the U.S., Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. We also work in the Middle East and North Africa through Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Limited, a joint venture, and in India through Grameen Foundation India, a wholly-owned subsidiary.

Our high standards and efficiency have earned us certification from Charity Navigator, the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and Guidestar’s Exchange Seal.

While Professor Yunus is a founding director and a current director emeritus of our board, Grameen Foundation and Grameen Bank are independent organizations and have no financial or institutional links.

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Where does Grameen Foundation work?

Grameen Foundation’s products and services are available globally, but we focus specifically on regions where the need is the greatest. Our activities in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas and Asia are directed and managed through our regional offices. Our activities in the Middle East and North Africa region are managed through Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Limited (Grameen-Jameel), a joint venture with Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives, a subsidiary of the Abdul Latif Jameel Group. Our work in India is managed through Grameen Foundation India, a wholly-owned subsidiary.

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What is the difference between Grameen Foundation and Grameen Bank?

Grameen Foundation shares and supports the philosophy of Grameen Bank. We pursue a common vision by sharing knowledge and success models, accelerating the rate at which the world's poorest people can access microfinance and begin their journey out of poverty.

That said, we are independent organizations with separate management, staff, funding sources, and governing boards. Grameen Bank operates in Bangladesh only. As one of the largest and most successful microfinance organizations—and one of the first to be established—it strongly influences the direction of microfinance globally, while Grameen Foundation is a U.S-based organization that works with organizations around the world to help them reach and serve poor people more efficiently and effectively.

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What is the difference between Grameen Foundation and Grameen America?

Other than sharing a common heritage rooted in the philosophy of Grameen Bank, Grameen Foundation and Grameen America are separate and independent organizations. Grameen America is a microfinance institution (MFI) that makes small loans in the United States. Grameen Foundation works to strengthen the microfinance sector throughout the developing world, but it is not an MFI and does not make loans to individuals. In addition, our efforts to fight poverty are focused outside the U.S.

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How did Grameen Foundation get started?

Grameen Foundation was established by Alex Counts, our current president and CEO. He first went to Bangladesh as a Fulbright Scholar and spent six years working under Professor Yunus at Grameen Bank. When he helped launch Grameen Foundation in 1997, Professor Yunus challenged us to deliver the promise of microfinance around the world. We continue to highly value our rich heritage. Professor Yunus was a founding member of Grameen Foundation’s board of directors and currently serves as director emeritus.

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What are Grameen Foundation's products and services?

Grameen Foundation’s products and services are designed to measurably reduce poverty through access to financial services and essential information on health and agriculture. We also provide tools to help other organizations with similar missions be more effective.

Our products, such as Growth Guarantees and the Progress out of Poverty Index™ (PPI™), are used across the microfinance and social enterprise sectors. Our MOTECH and Community Knowledge Worker initiatives, are establishing Grameen Foundation's reputation as a leader in innovation in using mobile devices for development, combining the power of the mobile phone and local human networks to serve the poorest in hard-to-reach rural areas and helping them fight the burden of "information poverty." Through Bankers without Borders, our Human Capital Hub and TaroWorks, we are helping other organizations harness skilled talent to support their mission and manage their workforce remotely.

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How do you help microfinance institutions get the funding they need to make a difference in the lives of poor families?

Grameen Foundation’s Capital Management Group supports both social enterprises and microfinance institutions. We finance organizations that seek to improve livelihoods in the “last mile” — those rural or difficult-to-reach markets that often include the poorest people. To serve these remote areas, Grameen Foundation supports three investment programs – Growth Guarantee Program, Pioneer Fund and Fairtrade Access Fund – that link social businesses to sources of capital traditionally beyond their reach in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America.

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How do you use technology to increase the effectiveness of your work?

We bring information and communications technology to rural communities, local poverty-focused organizations and the international development arena. Our teams work with local and global partners to use mobile phones and other devices to create new business opportunities for the poor, while improving their access to financial, health and agricultural information..

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How can you ensure that the organizations with which you work are actually reaching the poorest people?

Grameen Foundation is a leading advocate for assessing organizations’ work by measuring their financial and social performance (i.e., how well they are achieving their goal of improving poor people’s lives). Working together with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the Ford Foundation, we commissioned development of the Progress out of Poverty Index® (PPI®) to help poverty-focused organizations more accurately track the poverty level of their clients over time. This enables them to adjust their programs and services to be more effective. The PPI is quickly becoming an industry standard, a tool that MFIs can use both to improve their operations and to prove to the outside world that they are achieving their stated social goals.

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Why do MFIs focus on women?

Women have proven to be the best poverty fighters. Experience and studies have shown that women use the profits from their businesses to send their children to school, improve their families’ living conditions and nutrition, and expand their businesses. When they use their profits to make better lives for their children, women help break the generational cycle of poverty.

Microfinance also gives women a sense of purpose outside the home, encourages friendship among others in the community, increases self-sufficiency, and improves self-esteem. Microfinance has helped to elevate the status of women throughout the world.

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Can individuals get a loan from Grameen Foundation?

Grameen Foundation does not provide loans to individuals. We work directly with local organizations that provide financial and other services to poor people, to help them increase their efficiency and effectiveness, and scale their operations. We believe that this approach enables us to help the most people.

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How can I be sure you are performing the work you claim?

Our innovation, efficiency, and effectiveness have earned us certification from Charity Navigator, the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance seal, and Guidestar’s Exchange Seal. We have also received the Fast Company/Monitor Group Social Capitalist Award, the Pro-Poor Innovation Award, and the Tech Museum Award.

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What can I do to help?

To extend the reach of financial and information services to more of the world’s impoverished families, Grameen Foundation relies largely on private donations. Our community of individual donors, foundations and institutions is a tremendous network that we encourage you to join. Find out how you can take action against global poverty.

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Why should I donate to Grameen Foundation instead of donating to the organizations directly?

By donating to Grameen Foundation, you can help improve MFIs and other poverty-focused organizations around the world, meaning that your donation helps extend the benefits of microfinance and technology to millions of people – giving you the best "return" on your charitable investment. You can rest assured that your donation goes to the people who need it – before we work with any organization, we conduct a substantial vetting process to ensure that our donors’ funds are going to groups that use their money wisely. We welcome your support.

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Is my contribution tax-deductible?

Grameen Foundation is a non-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, and charitable donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Find out more how you can take action against global poverty.

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Can I direct my contributions to a specific country, region or organization?

Yes, you can direct your gift to a particular region where Grameen Foundation works and, in some cases, to a specific country. However, because we focus on serving a broad array of poverty-focused organizations, you will not be able to designate your gift to a single organization. Our Development office can discuss your particular needs. For more information, please contact khammett-caster [at] grameenfoundation [dot] org (subject: Giving%20to%20Grameen%20Foundation) (Kari Hammett-Caster) at 202-628-3560, ext 209.

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© 2014 Grameen Foundation USA. All rights reserved.

Grameen Foundation is approved by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (C) (3) tax-exempt organization, and all donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by law. Grameen Foundation's Federal Identification Number (EIN) is 73-1502797.

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