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

06/16/2010 by

Erin Stahl, Danielle McGee, Lauren LoPinto, and Julie Ruggieri are four students at Fairfield University who worked with Professor Gita Rajan to raise $1,067 for the Grameen Foundation Scholarship Program.

[caption id="attachment_705" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Students from the Women’s Studies Capstone Seminar"][/caption]

During our Women’s Studies Capstone Seminar, not only did we learn about the influence of public policy on society, but we put it into action—locally and globally.

We began our research with trying to understand how gender empowerment models could be sustained over time. After researching gender-focused public policy and its impact on legislation within the United States, we realized the tremendous impact that policies like Title IX and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act of 1998 have had on the lives and careers of U.S. women. However, we wanted to do something to improve the opportunities afforded to women in developing countries for educational, economic, and social advancement.

Through our research, we discovered that educating and incorporating adult women in the economy of South Asia is a low priority, so we chose to create a scholarship for a woman in Bangladesh. After exploring NGOs operating in the region, we decided to create the scholarship through Grameen Foundation’s Scholarship Program and to fund a scholarship with Grameen Shikkha, a program GF supports, because we wanted to maintain our strong “acting locally, thinking globally” connection. We also appreciated their concrete focus on educational opportunities.

06/11/2010 by

Luckshmi Sivalingam is a Program Officer for Grameen Foundation's Solutions for the Poorest program.

Before joining GF, I interviewed fifty clients of a Nepal savings and credit cooperative as part of an impact assessment. I saw that particularly for those living in extreme poverty, the solution to changing their situations can’t be limited to providing access to microfinance’s traditional product: an enterprise loan.

[caption id="attachment_685" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="THP client on her new farm in West Bengal"]Indian woman in the field[/caption]

Nearly all the clients I spoke with said that if they’d undergone appropriate skills development or received training on value addition for the goods and services they were selling, then their microenterprises could have generated the additional income required for them to progress out of poverty.

06/10/2010 by

Grameen Foundation has released a new publication by Kathleen Odell, an assistant professor of economics at Dominican University’s Brennan School of Business in River Forest, IL.

Alex Counts, President and CEO of Grameen Foundation, includes the following from the foreword:

The debate about microfinance’s effectiveness in reducing poverty and addressing other societal problems, and related discussions about how to make microfinance even more potent, has often degraded into polemics and unsubstantiated claims, and sometimes become very technical in nature. The media and other stakeholders, such as regulators and social investors, have been increasingly confused by conflicting claims about what we know and don’t know. This paper should help to inform these important discussions, which go to the heart of how we think about making microfinance the most effective tool that it can be and how can we set expectations appropriately about its potential and current limitations.

Here are a few excerpts from Professor Odell's Executive Summary:

This paper is a survey of several significant microfinance impact assessment evaluations released or published between 2005 and 2010. It is an update of a comprehensive impact assessment literature survey released in 2005, which was sponsored by Grameen Foundation and authored by Nathanael Goldberg. In the years since Goldberg’s paper was released, there have been a number of important developments in microfinance impact assessment, making this current survey a much-needed update. The release of a handful of prominent microfinance impact assessment evaluations in 2009 precipitated a good deal of media coverage. Stories published in the Economist magazine, the Boston Globe, and the Financial Times presented the new research with a negative slant, collectively suggesting that microfinance isn’t as powerful an anti-poverty tool as suggested by many of its proponents. These media stories should be read with a healthy dose of skepticism, as even the authors of the research papers cited in the articles have made public statements disputing the oversimplifications and negative interpretations appearing in the press. One aim of this paper is to summarize the results of these new studies, disentangling the media interpretation from the actual findings reported.

06/08/2010 by

Peg Ross, director of Grameen Foundation’s Human Capital Center team, recently returned from research trip to India. This is part of the Next Generation Leadership Development initiative to help develop the vital middle management level of microfinance leaders.

NGLD Team with CASHPOR district manager Tiwari

It was already 100°F when we loaded into cars at 6 a.m. to head out to the most rural branch at CASHPOR, a microfinance institution (MFI) based in Varanasi in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh.  The branch is two hours away, and we stopped before heading out of town to buy a case of bottled water—something we would need to stave off dehydration in this extreme, dry heat.  The temperature later climbed to 115°F.

CASHPOR was the starting point of a two-week research trip to four diverse Indian MFIs where we hoped to deepen our knowledge of the role of the field operations middle managers from multiple perspectives.  Armed with this data, we plan to develop a scalable, replicable leadership development solution that will enhance their ability to perform their current jobs more effectively and begin the process of grooming them for senior leadership roles within the MFI.

We were a diverse team: an Indian-born leadership expert from the Center for Creative Leadership; a partner at Bangalore, India-based CoCoon Consulting; a former Fast Company writer who now heads the social innovation practice at Continuum in Boston; an envisioner, also from Continuum (on her first trip to India); Grameen Foundation’s India representative who grew up on a farm more than 60 miles outside of Delhi; and me, a former corporate HR leader.

05/31/2010 by

Darwin Cruz is Online Communications Officer for Grameen Foundation.

In the face of some staggering statistics concerning global poverty, it's easy to feel like the problem is so huge, and that we can't make a difference. What could one person do?

When people want to take action and support Grameen Foundation, we offer opportunities to volunteer your time or donate your resources. While those are still great options, for the next 12 weeks, even just a few minutes of your time could make a world of a difference for people living in poverty. We're excited to participate in Members Project® from American Express and Take Part where we are eligible to win $200,000 to help us fight poverty. However, we need your help to vote for us and spread the word to your networks.

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