Grameen Foundation, a global microfinance and technology organization, has announced Richard S. Gunther as the 2009 recipient of its annual Susan M. Davis Lifetime Achievement Award.
November 9, 2009 - Gunther, who was already a successful businessman by age 34, will be honored for his longstanding philanthropy in support of the fight against global poverty and injustice. He will be honored by the Grameen Foundation board of directors at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on November 12.
Gunther was first introduced to microfinance a decade ago after meeting Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus. Upon Dr. Yunus’ request, he visited Bangladesh to get a first-hand view of how microfinance was changing lives. One searing memory from that trip was a woman who pointed to the tree that had provided her family’s only shelter for five years before she joined Grameen Bank; she then showed him the house that she was able to build with her new earnings. This sparked his long-lasting support of microfinance, which has also taken him to China and India, and Vietnam.
“Throughout his life, Dick Gunther has been guided by the principle that the key to a fulfilling life lies within our ability to be of service to others,” said Alex Counts, president and CEO of Grameen Foundation. “He has been instrumental in catapulting Grameen Foundation from a tiny organization with a grand vision into the successful organization it is today and we are indebted to him for his support in expanding microfinance and technology initiatives in poor communities around the world.”
In welcoming the announcement, Gunther said, “It is gratifying to receive this award from an organization for which I have great respect. As a child growing up in Los Angeles during the Great Depression, I learned early on that poor people have the will and ingenuity to help themselves, but need the opportunity to move ahead. Microfinance enables you to give them that spark.”
“Dick Gunther’s generosity, activism and unwavering advocacy for poor and disadvantaged people and communities are an inspiration to all of us and we are honored to pay this tribute to him,” said Paul Maritz, chairman of Grameen Foundation’s board of directors.
Gunther’s charitable activities and commitment to public service include 60 years serving in leadership positions in local, national and international organizations concerned with social justice and peace. His extraordinary climb to the pinnacles of business and the life lessons he learned along the way are chronicled in his memoir, How High is Up?:The Tale of a Restless Spirit.
The Grameen Foundation Susan M. Davis Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals whose life achievements exemplify excellence in microfinance and a persistent commitment to ending poverty. It is named for the foundation’s longest-serving past president to recognize her years of exceptional service to Grameen Foundation and her unwavering commitment to empowering the world’s poorest people through microfinance. Past recipients include Sam Daley-Harris, founder of RESULTS and executive director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign and Nurjahan Begum, general manager of Grameen Bank.
About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit organization, helps the world’s poorest people access financial services and technology solutions by providing financing, technology support and management strategies to the local organizations that serve them. It also spearheads technology initiatives that create new microbusiness opportunities for the poor, provide telecommunications access for the world's rural poor, and improve their access to health and agriculture information and other services. Founded in 1997, Grameen Foundation has offices in Washington, D.C., Seattle, Washington, Ghana and the Philippines. Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, is a founding member of its board of directors, and now serves as director emeritus. For more information, please visit www.grameenfoundation.org.