GF President Alex Counts talks about next steps for Haiti and how to help the relief effort.
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.
By Kay Hixson, Director of Marketing and Communications, Grameen Foundation
As the hours wear on, we see more and more of the destruction. We just got these photos in today from our partners on the ground in Haiti. It is unimaginable that so many people have perished, but our spirits are lifted when we see heroic acts, people helping each other, and many risking their lives to help save their neighbors. We give a small sigh of relief every time we get a short text message saying “we found someone and they are OK.”
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).
Battling the odds has never been a new concept to the people of Haiti.Fifty-eight percent of the country’s population is undernourished. Fifty-four percent live on less than US$1.25 a day.
But despite these conditions, Haiti has also had to endure a number of natural disasters—most recently, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Tuesday, January 12, near Port-au-Prince. Damage from the worst earthquake in 250 years has been described as “unimaginable” and “incomprehensible.” All hospitals were leveled by the disaster, and a devastating death toll is expected, potentially in the hundreds of thousands. The archbishop of Port au Prince is one of those whose lives have been lost, and the offices of the World Bank and InterAmerican Development Bank have been destroyed.
By Kate Griffin, Director, Grameen Foundation's Solutions for the Poorest
There is a common misconception that poor people, especially the very poorest, can’t save – that they simply don’t have enough money to do so. Yet, every day, these people are proving us wrong. They are putting tiny amounts of additional income away – hiding it in their homes, giving it to a neighbor to safekeep, taking part in informal savings clubs that pay out in an established intervals, or buying livestock or jewelry.
They know that in order to meet daily needs, or in order to withstand an illness, pay for school fees, and have enough money to buy fertilize for their crops, they will need these sums of money set aside. But these forms are often unreliable – theft can occur, or the neighbor can walk away with your money. When you need it most, the price of livestock may also be at its lowest. In order for these poor households to get the most out of their ability to save, they need safe, secure places to save that are conveniently located near their homes.
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.
Today’s interview on CSPAN’s “Washington Journal” program was personally enjoyable, and it was also great exposure for Grameen Foundation and our self-help strategy for combating world poverty. I always chuckle when people put makeup on me in advance of appearing on television. This time, Steve Scully (the host) touched up my makeup about 15 seconds before we were on the air – apparently his staff had missed something when powdering me up minutes earlier!