Emily Gordon is a graduate of Lehigh University, where she studied International Relations, Spanish, and Business. She spent a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina studying foreign relations and working with a human rights organization. Emily has worked with a variety of international non-profits, including interning with Grameen Foundation’s Bankers without Borders® program in 2011.
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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.
The founding members of the Microfinance CEO Working Group -- which includes the CEOs of pioneering microfinance organizations ACCION, FINCA, Freedom from Hunger, Grameen Foundation USA, Opportunity International, Pro Mujer, VisionFund International and Women’s World Banking -- have just released the “Road Map for the Microfinance Industry: Focusing on Responsible and Client-Centered Microfinance.”
This document outlines the Working Group members’ vision for the positive evolution of the microfinance field and underscores their commitment to raising industry standards, starting with their own. Central to this vision is the Working Group’s support for three ambitious initiatives that are helping to lay the groundwork for a more responsible, client-focused and transformative industry: the Smart Campaign, MicroFinance Transparency and the Social Performance Task Force’s universal standards for social performance management. Alex Counts first talked about the group and its goals in this blog post.
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.
Santosh Daniel is the project manager for Grameen Foundation’s Microsavings Initiative in India.
Anju Jaiswal lives in a remote village of Dheena in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India, where she and her husband, Ghanshyam, own a small kirana, or grocery. Using a loan from Cashpor, a local microfinance institution (MFI), Anju is able to stock her family’s store with vegetables, provisions and other essential household items. Her store serves the surrounding agricultural community, which can make earning a regular income challenging as most of her clients have seasonal farm jobs. She uses most of the income she earns from the store to feed her family, often leaving very little for savings. When the family is able to save, they keep their savings at home, like many other poor households.
Leo Tobias is Grameen Foundation’s Technology Program Manager of the Solutions for the Poorest Microsavings Initiative.
Offering savings programs for the poor can be challenging. First, the microfinance institutions (MFIs) that want to offer these services are competing with a variety of alternatives, such as home-based savings (under mattresses, in strongboxes, etc.), or keeping money with relatives or neighbors. Second, offering savings products fundamentally changes the relationship between the MFI and its customers. When clients only want loans, making that the primary purpose for their interactions with the MFI, there is a standard process. Taking voluntary customer deposits radically changes that relationship, to one that is initiated by the customer and that involves varying amounts of deposits or withdrawals. In other words, the customer interaction is less predictable. At any time of the day or night, the customer can ask for her balance and withdraw from it.