October 29, 2009
Will Marre is the co-founder and former president of the Covey Leadership Center (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), CEO of the REALeadership Alliance, and the author of “Save the World and Still Be Home for Dinner” (Capital Books, 2009). The following is from a Tuesday, Oct 27 entry on his blog, Thought Rocket.
Today the Grameen Foundation is launching $27 on the 27th. This is to commemorate Dr. Mohammed Yunus’ first micro-loan back in 1976. He loaned $27 to a group of impoverished women in Bangladesh who were living on less than $1 a day while working their hearts out. The economic system of the rural villages was designed by middle class traders to keep their village work forces in constant debt. The women that Dr. Yunus loaned his money to were making a profit of 2 cents a day. Almost immediately their profits increased 50 times to over a dollar a day. Within a few years Yunus had founded the Grameen Bank, which means Village Bank, and thousands of poor women have become self-reliant, often doubling or increasing their net income by 10 times within months of having a legitimate source of investment capital.
Today the Grameen Foundation supports over 200 micro-finance institutions operating around the world from Asia to Africa, China to the Middle East. There are now over 150 million families benefiting from micro-investment capital. The power of this business model is that it is a business. Interest is charged to support the micro banks so that they can loan more money and keep it in an endless virtuous cycle of reinvestment. Today the Grameen Foundation is operating with the wisdom of a global social enterprise by helping create software and other technology solutions to help microfinance banks operate with high efficiency. They are also creating micro-franchises so that village entrepreneurs can establish solar-powered villages while reducing the need for diesel and kerosene. They’re helping women become village eyeglass dispensers so that people over 40 can read on their cell phones and of course they have brought cell phone technology to tens of millions of people in the developing world. For the first time in history we can actually imagine a world without poverty driven by the values of self-reliance. After doing this for 30 years we now know that women are the world’s best poverty fighters because they reinvest in their children and their communities.
Today the Grameen Foundation is seeking to establish a constant and reliable source of donor income. They are asking us to contribute $27 a month every month, a little less than a dollar a day. What they hope to do with this sustainable flow of money is build a worldwide system that provides capital, education, access to basic health care, technology and leadership development to help the poorest of the poor lift themselves to a life of dignity. Their vision is a poverty free world.
I have adopted the Grameen Foundation as my central cause because I have never seen so much sustainable good achieved by integrating the best of business practices and the highest moral vision that human beings can aspire to. So I invite you to consider becoming part of this great movement to end poverty. Go to the Grameen Foundation and join up. I already have.