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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

07/21/2010 by

Veteran marketing executive Madelyn Hammond, President of Madelyn Hammond & Associates, and Emily Lynch, West Coast Coordinator for shoe designer Christian Louboutin, recently accompanied GF staff on a site visit to Peru to witness the impact of microfinance.  Once acquaintances, and now lifelong friends, both are dedicated supporters of the Grameen Foundation.

Six people who didn’t really know each other went to the Amazon to see Grameen Foundation and their local partners in action.  Four days later we were friends for life and would never look at the world the same way again. This special expedition to Pucallpa, Peru was a combination of divine intervention and supreme coincidence.

[caption id="attachment_802" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Madelyn (left) and Emily in Peru."][/caption]Almost a year ago, the world famous shoe designer, Christian Louboutin, was given a list of ten charities for him to review and then select one to really get involved with. Without knowing a lot about Grameen, the idea of microfinance appealed to him and that these loans were primarily made to women made it even more perfect.  Emily Lynch, who is the West Coast Coordinator for Christian Louboutin, and responsible for overseeing their Charity associations in the U.S., was charged with spearheading the project.  She knew to really get Christian involved would require first-hand knowledge of how a “charitable gift becomes a loan” and actually meet the “borrowers”.

I’m a marketing executive and was already somewhat familiar with Grameen through Yeardley Smith, (the voice of Lisa Simpson), who was a former client. Yeardley’s two trips to Haiti really inspired and made me want to experience a Grameen trip on my own.

We were expertly guided (and educated!) through various towns in Peru by several Grameen and Prisma (their local microfinance partner) associates. Alberto Solano (Grameen’s Regional CEO), Mary Irvine (Grameen’s Regional Director of Development), Diego Fernandez Concha (Director, Prisma), and Lori Ospina (Grameen’s Program Assistant).

Here is our Story: Ten Things Emily and Mad Learned on our Trip to the Amazon

The Borrowers:

1.       …are resourceful. There is a misconception that poor means lazy. What poor is…is a lack of opportunity. The women we met all have 4 or 5 jobs depending on weather, time of year, crops or children.

2.       …are resilient.  The women had an attitude of “whatever needs to be done will be done”. We saw an incredible work ethic coupled with practicality and strong survival undertones.

3.       …just like other women. The mothers want the same things all mothers want—healthy, educated, successful children. We saw women who were “Avon saleswomen” [the equivalent of?]and took pride in their appearance although they were dirt poor. All the women had the same hopes and dreams we all share.

07/13/2010 by

Preeti Wali is Communications Officer at the Grameen Foundation Social Performance Management Center (SPMC). She is based in Washington, DC. Preeti and her colleagues recently completed a trip to Senegal and Mali in support of Progress Out Of Poverty Index™ (PPI™) trainings. Check out our PPI blog for more posts, and you can keep up with our social performance work @gfppi on Twitter where we have been live tweeting during our travels.

“Can you drive a wheel? Can you drive a door?” As pictures of pieces of a car were passed around the room, these are the questions our trainers asked. Of course, the response was a resounding “No.” Just so, the trainers explained, “The PPI is like a car, you can only drive it if you have all the parts in place.”

07/02/2010 by

This July 11, 2010 host a World Cup Party with your friends/family and help out Grameen Foundation at the same time! VOTE to end global poverty!

07/01/2010 by
Charlene Balick is a Technical Program Officer for Grameen Foundation based in Seattle, Washington. She spent the last 6 months working with CGAP to organize a series of regional IT workshops. Next week on July 7 and 8 there will be a virtual webinar hosted on the CGAP blog.

[caption id="attachment_737" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Group discussing MFI Technology costs in Hyderabad, India"]Group discussing MFI Technology costs in Hyderabad, India[/caption]

I work in the group of Grameen Foundation called Technology Readiness which strives to strengthen the capacity of MFIs to plan for and work with technology – especially their back-end systems to manage client and product data.  We received grant funds provided by the MasterCard Foundation (as well as additional support from the European Union) to organize and host a series of regional workshops to discuss usage of back-end technologies.  We partnered with CGAP to invite the thought leaders in technology in three regions:  East Africa, South Asia and Latin America to hold small workshops in:
  • October: Washington D.C.
  • February: Nairobi, Kenya
  • April: Hyderabad, India
  • June: Lima, Peru
We convened a mix of stakeholders in each region who have extensive experience working with back-end technology platforms – and who understand the learnings challenges that have come with that work. This included leaders from:  MFIs, software vendors, donors and investors, government agencies, Technical Assistance Providers, and networks & associations both local and international.
06/24/2010 by

Kathleen Odell is an assistant professor of economics at Dominican University’s Brennan School of Business. Her new paper examines major microfinance studies conducted since 2005 and is a follow-up to a 2005 Grameen Foundation report by Nathanael Goldberg which examined studies conducted between 1970 and 2005.

[caption id="attachment_721" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Clients of Maata-N Tudu (Ghana)"][/caption]

On Thursday June 10 in New York, I introduced Grameen Foundation’s newly released paper, Measuring the Impact of Microfinance: Taking Another Look (which I authored) to a surprisingly large and attentive audience at J.P. Morgan.  An estimated 360 people were in attendance to hear my brief introduction and the 45 minute panel discussion that followed.  The discussion was moderated by  Christina Leijonhufvud, Head of Social Finance at J.P. Morgan; the panel included Camilla Nestor, Vice President of Microfinance Programs at Grameen Foundation, Jonathan Morduch, Professor of Public Policy and Economics at New York University and co-author of Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day and the newly released Economics of Microfinance, Second Edition, and Neil MacFarquhar U.N. Bureau Chief at the New York Times, and author of recent NYT article, "Banks Making Big Profits From Tiny Loans.”

The title of the lunch-hour event was “Does microfinance reduce poverty? A debate on the social impact of microfinance as a development tool.”  In the invitation, the “debate” was outlined as follows:

Microcredit has been successful in increasing access to capital by the poor but does it actually reduce poverty for the people it intends to help? Join us for a discussion on the effect of microfinance on the lives of poor people. Hear leading experts examine the value of microcredit as a tool for fighting poverty.

By the end of the hour, a few things were clear.  The most obvious conclusion was that 60 minutes wasn’t nearly enough time to come to any resolution on the question at hand (Does microfinance reduce poverty?) – it was barely enough time to outline the question itself.  Having spent the last six months engrossed in the literature on the social impact of microfinance, I anticipated that the discussion might center on some of the latest impact assessment research, upcoming studies, unanswered questions, and possibly the surprisingly incendiary debate about the merits and disadvantages of various impact assessment methodologies.  In fact, the panel discussion, and the questions that followed, was largely concerned with the relationship of microloan interest rates, profits, and social impact.  Given the venue and the audience, this turn really isn’t surprising.

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