April 25, 2014 by Alex Counts
The movement to end poverty lost a great friend and champion earlier this month when Margaret Crow passed away in Dallas, Texas. Mrs. Crow was a generous donor, warm host and fearless traveler when it came to poverty reduction through microfinance, especially in Latin America, and most memorably in Chiapas, Mexico. She believed deeply in Grameen Foundation’s work to advance the elimination of poverty, and actively supported Chiapas International, our long-time partner in the Dallas area, during the last decade of her life.
I met Mrs. Crow through her daughter, our former board member Lucy Billingsley. Mrs. Crow took part in a memorable trip to Chiapas in 2003, leading a delegation of 30 female business leaders, professionals and philanthropists to spend a long weekend with the leaders, staff and loan clients of AlSol, a Grameen Foundation partner based in the charming colonial town of San Cristobal de las Casas.
That trip catalyzed a community-wide fundraising initiative to support Grameen Foundation’s efforts in Latin America – an effort that is still going strong more than 10 years later. Mrs. Crow also introduced us to women leaders in Mexico to help raise needed funds as well as the profile of Grameen-style microfinance.
Soon after her trip to Chiapas, Mrs. Crow hosted an event named “High Tea and Hats” – an all-ladies fund-raiser (with the exception of me, as I was one of the presenters). I still have the fancy hat that I bought for the occasion today, and think of her every time I wear it. Around that time she began hosting a holiday party that included a fundraising element benefitting our work.
Mrs. Crow was one of the most dignified yet approachable women I have ever met. On several occasions, when her daughter’s guest house was occupied, I stayed in her guest house – which, like Mrs. Crow herself, had the charm of an earlier and more civilized era.
All of us at Grameen Foundation mourn her loss while celebrating the many ways that her humanitarian work lives on – through the continued efforts of Chiapas International and Grameen Foundation, through our grassroots partners like Esperanza International, Fonkoze, and AlSol, and also through Grameen Foundation’s Last Mile Initiative that she also supported. Tens of thousands of women in Latin America have had access to microfinance and related support services (such as health education) as a result of Mrs. Crow’s work – which is particularly noteworthy considering new research that points to the efficacy of microfinance in poverty reduction.
I think what I will remember most is the joy she took in supporting our work and the women of Chiapas, and the pride she so obviously took in the leading role her daughter played in advancing poverty alleviation and getting others throughout the Dallas community, and beyond, involved.