David and Susan Russell Fuel $1 Million Toward Grameen Foundation’s Last Mile Initiative

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03/26/2014

Washington, D.C., March 26, 2014 – Grameen Foundation has announced a new $500,000 matching campaign to support its Last Mile Initiative, a five-year campaign to help 1 million poor people living in rural Latin America improve their lives. The dollar-for-dollar match is backed by Florida philanthropist David Russell and his wife, Susan. Launched in 2011, with significant support from Dallas-based Chiapas International, the Last Mile Campaign focuses on giving largely underserved communities access to financial services, viable opportunities to build and expand businesses, and critical information to help them enhance their livelihoods.

Across Latin America, the poorest people are concentrated in rural areas and depend on subsistence agriculture to make a living. The additional funding from the matching gift campaign will enable Grameen Foundation to expand its efforts in the region. To date, the organization has supported the disbursement of $10 million in loans to sixteen institutions in four value chains through the Fairtrade Access Fund. The fund was launched by Grameen Foundation, Fairtrade International, and Incofin Investment Management to provide appropriate financing and long-term capital to smallholder farmers. 

Additionally, eight pro-poor organizations, including rural farming cooperatives, have signed on to use Grameen Foundation’s custom mobile technology platform that provides farmers with access to mobile farmer training modules and tools like the “Farm Management Plan.” The Farm Management Plan is a suite of standardized registration modules linked to a web-based database that provides baseline information on farm characteristics, adoption of best agriculture practices, farmer behavior and other information needed for setting farm management targets aimed at increasing farmers’ productivity and produce quality. The system assigns unique identification numbers to farmers, allowing partners (government entities or private cooperatives) to track farmer behavior and the improvement of farming practices. The ultimate goal is to ensure that poor farmers have access to the capital and information they need to manage and grow their farms, and for private partners to have better knowledge of production capacity and quality. 

Grameen Foundation also works with rural cooperatives and pro-poor organizations to incorporate social performance management using the Progress out of Poverty Index® (PPI), which enables investors to monitor both social and financial impact. The information gleaned from the tool allows cooperatives to better tailor products and services for their members and helps Grameen Foundation track farmer poverty levels to ensure mobile interventions are reaching the poor and poorest. To date, 58 percent of the farmers benefitting from the Last Mile Campaign are under the poverty line in Colombia, and 29.7 percent are under the extreme poverty line.

"We thank David and Susan Russell for joining Grameen Foundation’s Last Mile Initiative to bring new opportunities to 1 million poor people living in Latin America's underserved rural areas. David and Susan have been great advocates for, and supporters of, our work for seven years and this bold commitment will ensure that poor people living in remote areas of Colombia, Guatemala and elsewhere across the region have the opportunity to reach their full potential," said Alex Counts, president and CEO of Grameen Foundation.

Grameen Foundation has already raised more than $250,000 in matching funds. When the full match is met, the Russells will have fueled more than $1 million toward rural economic development in Latin America – something that David is particularly proud to promote.

“As a retired businessman, I like that Grameen Foundation is using sound business principles and a combination of capital and technology to benefit poor farmers in Latin America. They are solving real problems for these farmers, and the cooperatives to which they belong. They are on the cutting edge – not just for a charity but for any organization. The work they do is in the hardest-to-reach places and with marginalized communities. I’m proud to support this work with a significant financial commitment,’ said David Russell, who also serves on Grameen Foundation’s board of directors. 

Those interested in supporting the poverty fighting efforts of the Last Mile Campaign can visit Grameen Foundation’s website here.

About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation is a global nonprofit organization that helps the world’s poorest people achieve their full potential by providing access to essential financial services and information on health and agriculture that can transform their lives. Founded in 1997, it delivers solutions that respond to the needs of the poor, as well as tools that help poverty-focused organizations become more effective. It focuses on initiatives that can achieve widespread impact and uses an open-source approach that makes it easy for other organizations to adopt them broadly. Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and the Grameen family of companies, is an inaugural member of its Board of Directors, and now serves as director emeritus. Grameen Foundation is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in the U.S., Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. For more information, please visit www.grameenfoundation.org or follow us on Twitter @GrameenFdn.

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