November 11, 2011 – Grameen Foundation, in collaboration with Chiapas International, announced the launch of the Last Mile Initiative, a five-year campaign to help 1 million poor people living in rural Latin America improve their lives. Across Latin America, the poorest people are concentrated in the rural areas and depend on subsistence agriculture to make a living. This initiative focuses on giving these largely underserved communities access to financial services, viable opportunities to build and expand businesses, and critical information to help them enhance their livelihoods.
Since its inception in 2003, Chiapas International has focused on helping poor people in Latin America build viable, sustainable income-generating opportunities in their home countries. They join Grameen Foundation’s effort having agreed to raise $2,000,000 dollars for this new initiative.
"We thank Chiapas International for joining Grameen Foundation in this bold campaign to bring new opportunities to 1,000,000 poor people living in Latin America's underserved rural areas. Chiapas has been a strong ally of our work in the region over the past eight years and this generous pledge to our Last Mile Initiative will boost our goal of giving people living in hard-to-reach areas in countries such as Colombia, Bolivia and Peru access to the resources they need to forge a path out of endemic poverty," said Alex Counts, president and CEO of Grameen Foundation.
The Last Mile Initiative is taking a unique approach in a sector that has been typically ignored because of real and perceived risks associated with rural agriculture. Rural farmers often live very far from urban centers and lack the necessary equipment to get their crops to market. In addition, even small farmer cooperatives, where they exist, face challenges either because they have little money or the ability to negotiate good prices for members’ crops. Through an innovative and collaborative model, Grameen Foundation will partner with local institutions to address these concerns by working directly with the cooperatives to help them access guaranteed markets and premium pricing; securing much-needed funding and working capital for farmers; and giving vital agricultural, weather and pricing information to the farmers via mobiles phones.
“Chiapas International is very excited to be part of this important initiative. We know that Grameen Foundation uses “best practices” in all of their work and have a successful track record globally. While we will still be supporting traditional anti-poverty solutions such as microfinance, we believe that helping to bring sustainable food production to the rural poor is a vital step to truly changing the face of poverty,” said Tricia Bridges, President and CEO of Chiapas International.
As part of the initiative, Grameen Foundation will also work with cooperatives to incorporate social performance measures that will enable investors to monitor both social and financial impact. The information will also enable the cooperatives to better tailor products and services for their members.
About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit organization, helps the world’s poorest people –especially women – lift themselves out of poverty by providing appropriate financial services, life-changing information and unique business opportunities. Founded in 1997, Grameen Foundation has offices in Washington, DC; Seattle, WA; Colombia; Ghana; Hong Kong; Indonesia; Kenya; the Philippines; and Uganda. Microfinance pioneer Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, is a founding member of its Board of Directors, and now serves as director emeritus. For more information, please visit grameenfoundation.org.
About Chiapas International
Chiapas International is a non-profit organization that provides funds to help break the cycle of poverty in Latin America. These loans provide seed capital to women to start self-sustaining businesses in their local communities. Chiapas International has helped more than 47,000 women and their families take the first step out of poverty.
Chiapas International, formerly known as The Chiapas Project, was founded in 2003 and is led by corporate and civic leaders. The organization has raised over $5 million since its inception.