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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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12/17/2009 by

[caption id="attachment_314" align="alignright" width="180" caption="Microfinance Client Shaheeda Begum"]Shaheeda Begum[/caption]

After a delicious Bengali breakfast of vegetables and paratha, I began a field trip that would ultimately bring me to Kholshi, where I did most of the research for my book Small Loans, Big Dreams.  But first I asked to see a Grameen Bank center meeting, to see how the process has evolved.  Abdul Malek, the manager, took me to Narandia, a village where there was a borrower meeting that day – this is where loan payments are made, new loans vetted, and other business conducted on a weekly basis.

Malek is still fairly new to this branch, and to driving a motorbike, so our trip through rice fields and the occasional dirt road was a bit of an adventure.  I had visited Narandia a couple of times in the 1990s.  Then as now the dominant force in this center – a federation of ten groups composed of fifty women clients – was Shaheeda Begum.  She was making payments on her two current loans that totaled about $1,000.  Only two other women in the center were able to borrow and invest amounts that large.   To a much greater extent than was true a decade ago, loans are made on the basis of investment capability, and can vary a lot from client to client.  Shaheeda was one of the most savvy businesswomen in the village.  But as she would explain to me over the course of an hour, when she began borrowing from Grameen in 1987 her conditions were much humbler than today.

12/16/2009 by

Asif  Dowla blogged about his recent White Paper examining the critical role microfinance institutions (MFIs) can play in mitigating the impact of climate change on poor people for the CGAP blog.

As the events at the Copenhagen summit on climate change continue to unfold this week, I think it is important that we look at the relationship between climate change and microfinance.

The microfinance industry has been almost silent about climate change. Even in Bangladesh, where microfinance institutions (MFIs) provide services to more than 30 million households, the industry did not actively participate in the National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA), which helps less developed countries identify priority activities for responding to climate change.

Read the rest of this post on the CGAP blog.

12/16/2009 by

[caption id="attachment_303" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Muhammad Yunus and Royston Braganza"]Muhammad Yunus and Royston Braganza[/caption]

Royston and I spent the first few hours on Monday back in the Grameen Complex in Dhaka.  The most exciting meeting was with two retired Grameen Bank officials -- Fazley Rabbi and, briefly, Abser Kamal – both of whom now work with Grameen Shakti (Energy).  Shakti, a sister company of Grameen Bank set up by Dr. Yunus in the early 1990s and that had been led until recently by Dipal Barua, has become a world leader in bringing renewable energy to rural households.  We heard how they had passed 300,000 solar home systems installed, and how they do it profitably and at a rate of 13,000 per month at present.  (The second most successful program of this kind has reached just over 100,000 installations.)

12/14/2009 by

Alex Counts is President and CEO of Grameen Foundation, and the author of “Small Loans, Big Dreams: How Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and Microfinance are Changing the World” (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). Below is Part Two of this journey to assess the state of microfinance with Grameen Foundation partners worldwide.

[caption id="attachment_305" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Muhammad Yunus and Alex Counts"]Muhammad Yunus and Alex Counts[/caption]

After a gap of about two years, on December 13, 2009 I returned to Bangladesh – the birthplace of the modern microfinance movement and the country where I spent six of the first nine years after I graduated college.  I came here initially driven by naïve idealism – that someone (especially at my tender age!) could catalyze the spread Grameen Bank’s approach beyond the borders of Bangladesh, so it could to become a global (rather than simply national) anti-poverty strategy.  As I was to learn, even by the time I arrived in December 1988, that process was under way – a process that was much more complex than I had imagined, and one that has been the focus of Grameen Foundation since it was established in 1997.

12/02/2009 by

George Conard is the Executive Director of Technology for Microfinance at Grameen Foundation

[caption id="attachment_292" align="alignright" width="267" caption="Advancing the use of technology across the microfinance industry"]technology [/caption]

Over the past decade, technology has played a key role in Grameen Foundation’s mission to alleviate poverty.  From equipping microfinance institutions with the capacity to manage technology to building and delivering industry-wide solutions like our Mifos software platform, our goal is to advance the use of technology across the microfinance industry.  The driving force is our Technology for Microfinance Initiative which seeks to transform technology from a barrier into an accelerator for the growth and impact of microfinance.

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