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.

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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.

11/18/2009 by

The PPI at Fonkoze: Case StudyWhen you read about organizations that help the poor, do you wonder how they know they are making a difference? We’re seeing positive results in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Fonkoze, the largest microfinance institution (MFI) in Haiti, is demonstrating that their programs help clients move out of poverty.

For Fonkoze, the mission is clear: target the poor and ultra-poor, mainly women in rural areas, and provide services to meet their special needs. In 2006, Fonkoze—working with Grameen Foundation--introduced the Progress out of Poverty Index™ (PPI™) assessment tool to measure the poverty level of its clients and to track their progress.

 

11/10/2009 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.

Once my Grameen colleagues and I had visited with the village phone operators, we travelled to a tea plantation that was also a modest retreat facility about two hours outside of Jakarta.  The assembled GF staff huddled there together to review our progress in 2009 and to plan for even wider impact in 2010.  I was highly impressed by the dedication and skills of some of our newest staff whom I had never even met before.

From there I travelled to Wolfsburg, Germany, where 150 Grameen leaders gathered with Grameen Bank founder Professor Muhammad Yunus to begin a discussion of our priorities between now and 2015.  I was joined by my colleagues David Edelstein and Camilla Nestor, GF’s Vice Presidents of technology and microfinance respectively, as well as Board committee member David Stephens, one of our most dedicated volunteers anywhere.

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