September 20, 2011 - Grameen Foundation today announced Qualcomm Incorporated, through its Wireless Reach initiative™, will match the funding it received in the Powering Economic Opportunity: Create a World that Works contest, co-hosted by the eBay Foundation and Ashoka Changemakers. The foundation received a grant from eBay to help expand its initiative to create mobile phone microfranchise businesses for the poor in Indonesia. Grameen Foundation was among five organizations selected from 900 entries from 83 countries. The winners represent some of the world’s most innovative market-based solutions that are creating economic opportunity and generating employment for disadvantaged populations.
In Indonesia, where more than 180 million live on less than $2.50/day, this microfranchise initiative is providing a predictable and reliable stream of income for poor families. The new funding will help expand the current network of more than 8,500 entrepreneurs to 60,000 over the next three years. The microfranchisees – the majority of whom are women – sell airtime minutes in their communities and, through this expanded network, will soon be able to provide an estimated 4.5 million customers with access to job listings, a mobile marketplace, vital information on health and agriculture, mobile banking services and mentoring for small business owners.
“We believe poor people can improve their own lives if they are given the appropriate tools and opportunities,” said Alex Counts, president and CEO of Grameen Foundation. “We are extremely pleased to have been selected from such a wide pool of global entrants and want thank our supporters for voting. Qualcomm has been a great ally in our work and we appreciate its steadfast support for our efforts to bring new opportunities to Indonesia’s poor.”
“The long standing collaboration between Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative and Grameen Foundation is a powerful and outstanding example of how organizations can come together to create innovative and sustainable solutions for people who are living at the base of the economic pyramid,” said Shawn A. Covell, vice president of government affairs at Qualcomm. “We are proud to support the Grameen Foundation’s work and accomplishments in helping to lift people out of poverty and enable new entrepreneurs using wireless technology.”
PT Ruma, an Indonesian social enterprise that was incubated by Grameen Foundation and Wireless Reach two years ago to support the network, will recruit and train the microfranchisees and manage the business services they offer.
A study conducted by Grameen Foundation’s Bankers without Borders® volunteers found that 47 percent of the entrepreneurs who stayed in the mobile microfranchise program for more than two months doubled their income by their fourth month.
The winning solutions in the Powering Economic Opportunity: Create a World that Works contest were selected through a combination of public voting and expert evaluation. The ten finalists selected through public voting were judged on their innovation, social impact, and sustainability by an international panel of experts to determine the five winners.
About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit organization, helps the world’s poorest people lift themselves out of poverty by providing access to financing and management strategies to the local organizations that serve them. It also develops mobile phone-based solutions that address “information poverty” among the poor by providing tools, information and services in the fields of health, agriculture, financial services and livelihood creation. Founded in 1997, Grameen Foundation has offices in Washington, DC; Seattle, WA; Colombia; Ghana; Hong Kong; 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 www.grameenfoundation.org.