New Social Business Expands Microfinance’s Reach to the Poorest in China
With microfinance loans totaling $73, Hong Guiling of China was able to grow more crops and make more money for her family. Her expanding business was the reason Hong was able to move her family from the old leaky mud house they'd occupied for 20 years to a new, concrete home.
Over the past 25 years, poverty rates in China have fallen, but millions of Chinese still face persistent poverty. Through a unique collaboration signed on Sept. 15th in Shanghai between Grameen Foundation and the China Social Entrepreneurship Foundation (known as the YouChange Foundation), MFIs will now be able to expand their access to products and services that will increase their reach to even more of China's poorest people – like Hong. YouChange PuRong, the social business born out of this partnership, has a goal to reach 10 million poor households in China with financial services.
YouChange PuRong is the first social business in China to embrace the principles laid out by Prof. Muhammad Yunus – a structure that he believes will enable business to address humanity’s most pressing needs. “YouChange is a powerful new voice advocating for the poor’s access to finance, and brings a new way of thinking about philanthropy in China,” says Jennifer Meehan, CEO of Grameen Foundation’s Asia Region. “While Grameen Foundation brings a wealth of global expertise in poverty-focused microfinance and technology, together, we hope to create an environment that allows the microfinance sector in China to flourish in the way we know it can, but has not yet been able to do.” Read the news release.
This new collaboration is just one way that Grameen Foundation, with your help, is working to reach the poorest in Asia. Read about our work in Asia to find out more about how your donation can help provide the poor with the access to loans, information, and the business opportunities they need to lift themselves out of poverty.
Prof. Yunus Awarded Congressional Gold Medal, Appears on “The Simpsons”
U.S. lawmakers recently approved S. 846, a bill granting the Congressional Gold Medal to Professor Muhammad Yunus for his work as a pioneer of microfinance.
Along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Presidential Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor that can be awarded in the United States, and is typically given, according to the House of Representatives’ website, “as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.” American citizenship is not a requirement.
Citing the estimated 24 million microenterprises in the United States, the legislation honors Prof. Yunus for “his contributions to the fight against global poverty,” and will now go to President Barack Obama for his signature.
Professor Yunus was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008, and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, becoming only the seventh person to receive all three distinctions.
Right after receiving word about this honor, Prof. Yunus made his animation debut on Fox’s The Simpsons on Oct. 3. During the episode, Lisa Simpson learned about the power of microfinance to change the lives of poor people around the world – including her home town, Springfield. Although Prof. Yunus knew very little about the show, his daughter, Deena, immediately recognized the magnitude of the opportunity. “If you're on The Simpsons, dad, you've really made it,” she said to her father. Professor Yunus thought that his appearance was a great chance to get young people energized about the idea he sparked almost 35 years ago. “This gives me a chance to present our work to the next generation," he said.
Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson, is an advocate of Professor Yunus’s work and the work of Grameen Foundation. This year, she made a generous combined donation of $1.14 million to Grameen Foundation and Fonkoze, an MFI in Haiti. To find out more about her experiences with microfinance, read Yeardley’s blog posts about her visits to MFIs in Haiti and Bangladesh.
The Simpsons™ and © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
You Can Help Grameen Foundation and Qualcomm Win the 2010 Partnership Award
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Business Civic Leadership Center has named Grameen Foundation and Qualcomm Wireless Reach as finalists for the 2010 Partnership Award. The center is honoring the partnership for our work in Indonesia with the social business RUMA, supplying pre-paid telephone air minutes in small amounts at a discounted price through a network of businesses run by poor entrepreneurs. Through the initiative, we’ve helped RUMA create more than 2,500 women entrepreneurs who serve more than 100,000 customers in their communities.
Our work is one of five nonprofit projects competing for the award. The general public will vote and decide the winner, who will then be recognized at the BCLC's annual Corporate Citizen Awards ceremony in November 2010.
Please help us spread the word! Tell your colleagues, friends, and family to cast their votes and recognize us for our outstanding work in Indonesia.
Teleseminar Addresses Microfinance’s Role in Promoting Worldwide Peace
On Sept. 21, Grameen Foundation President and CEO Alex Counts joined Sam Daley-Harris, founder of RESULTS and the Microcredit Summit Campaign, for a teleseminar titled, “Microfinance as a Path to Dignity and to Peace.” During the seminar, both panelists discussed how microfinance promotes peaceful cultures, weaves together the human family, and innovates in the field to benefit the poor worldwide.
Alex said that the poor may be cast from their families because they're seen as a burden. But with microfinance, they are entrusted with money and become part of something bigger. "People who have been progressively isolated now feel that there is a home for them; they now have a network of people – the staff of their microlending organization," he said. "When things get tough, when they need money, when they need advice, when they need help, when they need someone to stick up for them, they have that. And that gives them a feeling of being rooted in society." The teleseminar was part of PeaceWeek, which ran from Sept. 14-21. Billed as the largest ever virtual summit, PeaceWeek brought together more than 50 inspiring pioneers to help attendees learn new ways to foster peace in local and global communities.
As Alex explained, when we widen poor people’s access to opportunity, we heighten our chances of achieving peace around the globe. Thanks to your donation, Grameen Foundation can continue its work to provide the world’s poorest with what they need most—money, opportunity, and the vital information they need to survive.
Innovative Technology Addresses ‘Information Poverty’ Worldwide
Nearly 4 billion people in developing countries may have never seen or used a computer – but they have access to simple, 12-key mobile phones. What would it take to get people to go from holding a phone to their ears to holding it in their hands to access crop or personal health information? During a TEDxSeattle talk, David Edelstein, Vice President of Technology Programs at Grameen Foundation, and Fiona Lee, Project Manager at Google, discussed "information poverty" and the best ways to use technology to get much-needed information in the hands of the poor. This video illustrates how we are applying our innovative technology to make a difference in the communities we serve.
Donors Get Firsthand Look at How their Dollars Change Lives
Kate McElligott, a Regional Development Officer at Grameen Foundation, accompanied donors on a trip in September to Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest MFI. As part of the trip, the group visited members of the MFI’s Chemen Lavi Miyo (“The Road to a Better Life”) program, which prepares Haitian women to enter into a microcredit program for the first time.
“These women have a long way to climb to get themselves out of poverty, but Fonkoze is helping provide the opportunity for them to do so and the women clearly feel empowered to try,” says Kate. Read more on our blog about Kate’s trip and about how Fonkoze is continuing to help poor women along their journey to financial self sufficiency.
The Poor Gained More Access, Even in an Uncertain Economy
Despite a worldwide 18-month economic downturn, people in developing countries actually experienced an increase in access to formal finance in 2009, according to "Financial Access 2010," a report by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the World Bank Group. Financial institutions reported a median increase in savings accounts of 4.3 percent, evidence that – although 2.7 billion people worldwide still have no access to these services – barriers to financial inclusion are slowly crumbling. “Financial Access 2010,” the second of an annual series, shares data from surveys with financial regulators in more than 140 countries between 2008 and 2009.
Grameen Foundation knows that although poor families have limited funds to provide for their families, they do, in fact, save. With one of our newest initiatives, the Solutions for the Poorest program, we are working to ensure that the world's poorest people have access to reliable financial services. Our goal is to help MFIs in Africa and Asia get 1.45 million people saving, by secure financial means, within three years.
We’ve Moved: Grameen Foundation’s Headquarters Has a New Address
Grameen Foundation headquarters’ new address is: 1101 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005. Please update your records so that we can continue to keep you informed about the latest trends in microfinance, technology, and the fight against poverty.