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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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05/27/2009 by

[caption id="attachment_134" align="alignleft" width="267" caption="Alex and Yeardley Smith at Fonkoze education meeting with Myriam Narcisse, Fonkoze education director"]Alex and Yeardley Smith at Fonkoze education meeting with Myriam Narcisse, Fonkoze education director[/caption]

On our final day in Haiti, we visited a literacy class, conducted by microfinance clients for microfinance clients.  Fonkoze’s path-breaking adult education program, modeled on the work of Brazil’s educator and visionary Paulo Freire, involves training clients to deliver four-month modules – on topics as diverse as basic literacy, children’s rights, maternal and child health, and environmental stewardship – to their peers.  This approach  represents social self-empowerment that, when coupled with economic self-empowerment through savings and  loans, can propel women faster than either can alone.

05/27/2009 by

Wednesday May 27th, 2009
Los Angeles, CA.


I’m back in Los Angeles. Back in my lovely home with its big backyard, and my two well- nourished cats, poring over the myriad choices that are available to me each day: What would I like to eat? Where would I like to go? Which dress shall I wear? Should I take the car, or walk? My dream job on “The Simpsons” notwithstanding, the fact that I have so many choices at my fingertips at any given time is what makes me wealthy. To me, choice is the brass ring in my life.

Since I returned, friends and colleagues have been quick to tell me how proud they are of me for going to Haiti and seeing Grameen Foundation’s work firsthand. It’s very flattering. But I have so much to learn that I feel like I didn’t do that much this trip. The most useful I felt in Haiti is when I tried to teach a group of women in an education center, outdoors under some shade tress, to knit with a pen and pencil for “needles,” and “thread” from a nylon bag of mulch! I still want to go back and really teach them. I would bring a whole suitcase full of yarn and needles next time so they could make beautiful placemats or afghans to sell at market. Anyway…

05/25/2009 by


Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
Mirebalais, Central Plateau, Haiti

Dear Zibby,

There was no hot water at the hotel this morning. Of course I was all soapy by the time I realized the freezing cold water really, truly wasn’t going to get any warmer! Ooof!

Same as yesterday, I met Alex, Kate and Myriam on the upstairs porch of our hotel for breakfast: tea, (coffee for Kate), and slices of pale toast with butter. Myriam had bought some mangoes and pineapple, so the kitchen sliced those up for our breakfast, too. The fruit was out of this world! Alex kindly provided the tea. He travels with his own stash, like I do. Though I completely forgot this time, I was so preoccupied with remembering to bring things I never travel with like bug spray, malaria pills, and my own quick-dry bath towel.

05/25/2009 by

Alex Counts is President and CEO of Grameen Foundation.

 The visit to Adaline, the entering CLM client, was a reality check for all of us.  (Yeardley writes in a moving way about that visit elsewhere in the blog.)

We stood before a woman who was one of the poorest people in one of the poorest countries on earth.  Her almost total lack of possessions told most of the story, and her vacant look and inability to answer very basic questions about her plans for the future told the rest.  If I had not known of the successes of 96% of the first batch of CLM clients (some of whom I had met in March 2008, at which time they looked as hapless and hopeless as Adaline), I would have walked away depressed.  In fact, I feel compelled to return to this place and see what Adaline looks like 18 months from now.