Grameen Foundation Insights

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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.

Latest Posts

03/30/2012 by

Yolanda Walker is a South African living and working in the US. She is a graduate of Oberlin College, where she studied Economics. During her college career she studied International Business in France and Mandarin in China. Yolanda also lived in Ghana, where she volunteered at an orphanage. Most recently, Yolanda volunteered with Grameen Foundation’s Capital Markets team through our skills-based volunteer initiative, Bankers without Borders®. An associate at Capital Group Companies, an investment management company, Yolanda is based in California.

[caption id="attachment_2045" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Bankers without Borders volunteer Yolanda Walker (center) attends a borrower’s group meeting in Kenya."][/caption]

One of the many perks of being a part of The Associate’s Program (TAP) at Capital Group Companies is having the opportunity to leave our company for four to five months and completely immerse ourselves in a non-profit organization – with the flexibility to choose any organization, in any industry. As I was contemplating my various service opportunities, a manager at Capital Group handed me a book about a group of individuals whose lives were affected by microfinance. As I perused the document, it became clear to me that this emerging form of finance fosters genuine empowerment for marginalized communities. I was hooked.

I grew up in a family of six that, for many years, survived on only $4 a day. My personal experience enabled me to closely relate to the issues that microfinance clients face. Growing up outside of Cape Town, I knew hunger, and remember often having to stand in food lines when my parents couldn’t afford to feed us. I knew about sleeping in the cold and dark. I knew, at age 10, what it meant to have a job, as I swept classrooms after school in exchange for a loaf of bread. I also knew the fear of potentially having to drop out of school – like my brothers – to take on another job that would bring extra money into our household.

These vivid and profoundly life altering elements of poverty were very real for me as a child. So, how did an individual like me end up working at one of the biggest mutual fund companies in the world? My response: hard work, chance encounters and the grace of God.

When I read about the impact of microfinance around the world, I became fascinated and wanted to know more. As I learned more about it, Grameen Foundation quickly became the obvious choice for my non-profit rotation.

03/23/2012 by

Grameen Foundation's Lisa Kienzle, Olga Morawczynski and Ali Ndiwalana recently co-authored a blog post with Ignacio Mas on the blog Mobile Active. Here they  introduce and user-test one concept of savings: deferred payments over mobile money. Below is an excerpt, followed by a link to the full post.

Grameen Foundation’s AppLab Money believes that mobile money is essentially a liquidity-management platform. Put differently, it could be described as LiFi: Connecting people to an electronic payment system via their mobile phones that provides Liquidity with Fidelity. What does it take to turn mobile money systems into a full-fledged savings platform? A full savings proposition would address these additional key elements:

03/19/2012 by

Our Applab Money initative focuses on researching, prototyping and testing innovative financial products to reach poor people who don't typically have access to these resources. Project Manager Olga Morawczynski and Operations and Strategy Manager Lisa Kienzle recently wrote on the CGAP blog about the need to develop creative products that focus on existing customer desires, use patterns, and needs. One example: using the idea of gaming and gambling to create a helpful product for poor people.

Arthur plays a popular board game called Ludo.

What follows is one example of an interesting insight that emerged on a recent field visit that could be translated into a product that poor customers could find exciting: on our trip, we noticed that everyone loves gambling.

03/08/2012 by

The Mobile World Congress has ended, but the excitement generated by discussions of helping the poor through mobile phones remains high. For those of us working in international development, it was heartening to see this issue no longer relegated to “corner discussions” or side conversations in the hallways between sessions. As noted by Heather Thorne, Grameen Foundation’s Vice President for Information Solutions, this time the valuable role of mobile phones in global development was front and center. Telecom operators and others are now seeing the opportunities for developing products and services for the poor.

03/06/2012 by

The annual Mobile World Congress is the place to see the latest mobile phones and applications before they hit the market. But that’s not why Tim Wood is there. As director of Grameen Foundation’s Mobile Health initiative, he’s more interested in how the mobile industry can help improve health outcomes for people who can barely afford a $20 phone.

Tim was part of a panel discussion on mobile health for development – the first of its kind to be held at a Mobile World Congress. He hopes this will galvanize even greater awareness of, and support for, the life-changing opportunities that a simple phone can provide to poor people around the world.

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