Bill and Melinda Gates’ 2015 letter identifies four “big bets” that could lead us to a future with vastly reduced levels of poverty. Grameen Foundation supports these priorities and appreciates the risk-taking financing that the Gates Foundation has provided to our organization and many others. For our part, we are bundling two of these “bets” into a unified push to reduce rural poverty. We believe that bundling financial services with practical information on good farming practices, both enabled through the now nearly ubiquitous mobile phone, will go further in reducing farmer poverty and increasing yields than advancing either solution alone.
In international development we are prone to working in silos and also to fads. Our work over nearly two decades in advancing financial services for the poor, often through innovative uses of information technologies, has taught us how difficult it can be to create real value for poor people through practical, “last mile” solutions. But breakthroughs are possible.