“Bad habits are hard to break. But if you can somehow turn a bad habit into a good one, it will also be hard to break.” In just those few words, Grameen Foundation board member David Russell elegantly captured the challenge, and the opportunity, of our “connected farmers” initiative in Latin America that is attempting to convince subsistence cultivators to adopt improved farming practices.
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At Grameen Foundation, our goal is to spur innovation in the global movement to eliminate extreme poverty. Part of that work is to develop better solutions and share them with people like you.
On GF Insights, we share lessons learned from our leaders in the field, news about efforts to expand access to financial and information services for the poor, and how poverty-focused organizations are using data to improve the way they work.
(L-R): Arcelia Gomez and Alex Counts of Grameen Foundation meet with Fred DeLuca, co-founder and president of Subway Restaurants, at the 2014 Subway Convention.
What do Grameen Foundation and the Subway® restaurant chain have in common? More than you might think.
Fred DeLuca, co-founder and president of Subway Restaurants, has long been a supporter of microcredit and is also a living example of its success. Fred (as he insisted I call him from our first meeting when I was barely 30 years old) opened his first sandwich shop (then called Pete’s Super Submarines) at just 17 years old with a $1,000 loan from friend and co-founder Peter Buck in 1965. He soon aimed to have 32 stores in operation by 1975. Then and now, he was a humble, hard-working, plain-spoken man – much like Professor Yunus, my mentor from the age of 20.
The poor and unbanked can take their rightful place as consumers of financial services only if the Modi government encourages different entities to advance the financial inclusion agenda.
In recent announcements, the government of India has unveiled ambitious financial inclusion plans of which the Business Correspondent (BC) model is a key piece. Over the next several weeks, Grameen Foundation India (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Grameen Foundation) will post a series of blogs that discuss this model and how to make it work for promoting financial inclusion in India.
Chandni Ohri, CEO, Grameen Foundation India
With the recent circular by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), allowing non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) that do not accept deposits to be authorized as business correspondents (BC), there is no doubt that NBFC-MFIs1 stand to gain a lot. It would be prudent for such microfinance institutions (MFIs) to consider this opportunity seriously and explore a partnership with a reputed bank.
My bottom-line framing of this entire issue is related to a basic question: why we do this kind of social science research at all? In my mind, we do it for one reason: in combating societal problems such as poverty, we want to do more of what works well, and less of what doesn’t work, or works less well. Period. If research contributes to that, I will call it successful and effective. If not does not, I will call it a failure – no matter how elegant the research design or how smart the investigators. This is my take on the design principle of “relevance” which we have been discussing today.