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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

07/02/2010 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.

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.