Alex Counts is president, CEO and founder of Grameen Foundation, and author of several books, including Small Loans, Big Dreams: How Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and Microfinance are Changing the World.
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.
Mobile phones can transform the way rural farmers in developing countries get information to better manage their crops and animals. Today, Grameen Foundation announced a new collaboration with MasterCard Worldwide that will develop new mobile applications for rural farmers in Colombia.
With these solutions, a smallholder farmer will be able to know the specific prices for his crops and the best weather conditions for planting and harvesting, without even having to leave his land.
The pilot will start in Urabá and Santa Marta, areas that were hard hit by Colombia’s internal conflicts. Over the next year, we will begin using research that was conducted earlier to test applications that will enable farmers to access information more easily and provide the organizations that serve them with tools to do so more effectively.
In addition, we will be tapping volunteers from MasterCard to work on this project and other global initiatives through Bankers Without Borders®, Grameen Foundation’s volunteer program.
While researching mobile financial services (MFS) best practices, Grameen Foundation had an opportunity in August to visit Tujijenge Microfinance, a microfinance institution (MFI) in Tanzania. At the time of the visit, it was the only MFI in the country that had implemented MFS, and used it for more than two years, reaching one-third of their clients (5,000 people) with noted impact in institutional growth. It has used MFS for collection, both savings and loans.
This is a guest post by Avinash Kumar, a staff member of The Livelihood School of BASIX who is working with Grameen Foundation as the project manager for the Livelihood Pathways for the Poorest project in Gaya, India.
Asha Devi’s eyes sparkled as she rolled agarbatti (“incense sticks” in Hindi) for the first time. Asha is a member of an adapted self help-group (ASHG) in Pali, a village in India’s Bihar state, where the Livelihood Pathways for the Poorest, a joint project of Grameen Foundation’s Solutions for the Poorest group and BASIX/The Livelihood School, is being implemented. The sparkle in Asha’s eyes reflects newfound self-confidence and pride that by selling handmade agarbatti, she will be able to supplement her family’s income.
There are often myths and misperceptions about the ability of poor people to save. At the SEEP conference, Kate Druschel Griffin, director of Grameen Foundation’s Solutions for the Poorest team, discussed those myths and also highlighted lessons her Microsavings team has learned over the past two years.
The Microsavings team has been working with three organizations in three countries: ACSI of Ethiopia, CASHPOR of India, and CARD Bank of the Philippines. Some of the key lessons they learned include: