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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.

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04/20/2011 by

Barbara Weber, who worked at Grameen Foundation from 2002 to 2006, was a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar in Bangladesh and is now working on her Ph.D. in depth psychology.

Bangladesh went from being dubbed the world’s basket case in 1973 by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to becoming a beacon of development innovation that the rest of the world has since sought to emulate, thanks in large measure to its pioneering in microfinance. This renown is fast turning to infamy, however, as political vendetta cannibalizes the very source of the nation’s well-deserved pride.

The country’s acclaim reached a crescendo in 2006, when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Grameen Bank and its founder, Professor Muhammad Yunus, for creating a system that has enabled the poor to pull themselves up by their boot straps. It has done this so effectively that its microfinance model has been studied exhaustively and replicated around the world.

What ensued next seems to have won Yunus the ire of the current prime minister, Sheikh Hasina. In 2007, the newly ordained Nobel laureate made a fleeting and ill-fated foray into politics in a vacuum that was created when a military-backed interim government began jailing operatives of the country’s top political parties. Sheikh Hasina herself was temporarily in exile and charged with masterminding crime.

[caption id="attachment_1599" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Prof. Yunus and most of the Board directors who represent the borrower-owners of Grameen Bank tour the streets of Oslo the day before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006."]Prof. Yunus and most of the Board directors who represent the borrower-owners of Grameen Bank tour the streets of Oslo the day before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.[/caption]

Some saw this as a potential turning point for a country that had topped Transparency International’s list of the most corrupt governments in the world. Bangladesh was number-one on that list for five consecutive years. But when national elections were held in 2008, Sheikh Hasina – who had held the post of prime minister from 1996 to 2001 – again took office. Now, she and her party in power seem intent on systematically dismantling Grameen Bank.

In apparent collusion with the current government, the country’s highest court recently upheld the ouster of Grameen Bank’s founder as managing director. The Supreme Court will have one more opportunity to review the case in a ruling that is due on May 2. In the meantime, Prof. Yunus remains managing director of the Bank while the world watches attentively and awaits Bangladesh’s next move.

04/07/2011 by

Jessica Osborn is the Business Development Manager for Grameen Foundation's MOTECH initiative.

MOTECH (Mobile Technology for Community Health) is an initiative of Grameen Foundation, Ghana Health Service and Columbia University that uses mobile phone-based technology to improve the quality of pre- and post-natal care for Ghanaian women and their families. MOTECH has developed an information service called Mobile Midwife, which delivers time-specific voice or text messages to pregnant mothers and their partners and families, both before and after birth.  We have also built a simple Java-based application that enables nurses in rural Ghanaian health facilities to automate much of their record keeping and reporting, which used to take 4-6 days per month of their time. This application also makes it easier for nurses to identify patients who have missed certain care.

04/04/2011 by

Alex Counts is President, CEO and founder of Grameen Foundation.

04/01/2011 by

Jason Hahn is the Business Development Manager for ICT Innovation at the Grameen Foundation in Seattle.

UPDATE: 04/06/2011 We just released a case study on using Grameen Foundation's Progress out of Poverty Index™ (PPI™) with PT Ruma to help them ensure they reach their goal of working with the poor and poorest.

03/23/2011 by

Todd Bernhardt is Director of Marketing and Communications for Grameen Foundation.

As readers of this blog may know, several weeks ago the Bank of Bangladesh (BoB) informed microfinance pioneer Professor Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, that he was dismissed from his post as Managing Director of Grameen Bank, which he founded in 1983. It claimed that he was serving illegally in his position because it had never formally approved his appointment when the 12-person Grameen Bank Board of Directors – which has three government-appointed directors on it, including the chairman – voted unanimously in 1999 to exempt Prof. Yunus from the mandatory retirement age of 60.

In fact, the BoB had asked the Grameen Bank Board in 1999 for an explanation of Prof. Yunus’s appointment. The GB Board promptly replied, and the subject was never brought up by the Bangladesh Bank again – including during its annual audits of Grameen Bank in the ensuing years. Why then, has it only now brought up the age of Prof. Yunus as an issue, after more than 11 years of silence about it?

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