Although the immediate need for water, food, shelter and medicine remains acute, especially in the province of Leyte, we will soon face the daunting challenge of rebuilding lost communities and displaced lives in the Philippines. Grameen Foundation has been involved in the rebuilding efforts in two of the worst disasters in recent history: the 2004 Tsunami in South and Southeast Asia and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti (PDF). While every disaster brings unique challenges, we believe there are lessons from these previous tragedies that can inform our rebuilding efforts in the Philippines:
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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.
It is still too soon to assess the full impact of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, especially on the country’s poorest citizens. It is clear, though, that microfinance institutions can play an integral role in the recovery. Two of our microfinance allies, CARD and NWTF, operate in the provinces that were hardest hit by the storm.
Grameen Foundation is a lot like the other 20,000 nonprofits that use Salesforce.com—it helps us be more efficient and effective in delivering on our mission. But Grameen Foundation is pretty unique. Not only do we use Salesforce.com for fundraising we’ve built a number of apps to support our programs. But I think most interestingly, we built four mobile apps, culminating in TaroWorks, our mobile field force management product based on 10 years of experience working with the very poor.
October 31st is not just about Halloween; it’s also about savings. October 31st was established as World Savings Day in 1924 to promote savings globally. Today also marks the end of Grameen Foundation’s four-year, $9.78 million savings project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project was created to help increase the number of active savers throughout India, the Philippines, and Ethiopia, particularly those below $1.25/day.
We’re pleased that we helped our partners reach 850,000 new active savers. We’ve also learned a lot over the last four years that can benefit others. On October 22, we held a Savings Seminar in Washington, D.C. to convene 70 practitioners to discuss learnings, best practices, and things we’d do differently in future programs. While we planned extensively for this project, things do not always go as planned.
Last week, Grameen Foundation CEO, Alex Counts, posted an update to his personal blog about some promising new ideas on researching the effectiveness of microfinance. In the post, he discusses the sometimes troubled relationship between microfinance practitioners and academic researchers. The post touched off a great discussion, centering on the question of how to ensure that the conclusions of researchers can be better put into practice:
“We should hold researchers to the standard they hold the rest of us – they should measure whether their research, on which millions of dollars are spent every year, produces any positive change.” -Alex Counts