Middle East / North Africa
Since 2003, Grameen Foundation has supported microfinance across the Middle East and North Africa region as a means of creating opportunities for the area’s poorest, especially women.
- According to the World Bank, almost 57 million people live on less than $2.00 a day in the Middle East and North Africa
- Almost 12 million people in the region survive on less than $1.25 a day
- It is estimated that only a fraction of the region’s microfinance needs are currently being served
Since 2007, we have conducted our work in the MENA region in partnership with Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Ltd., a joint venture between Grameen Foundation and the ALJ Foundation, a subsidiary of the Abdul Latif Jameel Group. Headquartered in Dubai and modeled after the social business concept championed by Professor Muhammad Yunus, Grameen-Jameel reinvests profits into the business rather than distributing dividends, which keeps capital flowing into the hands of borrowers who need it.
Between 2003 and mid-2011, Grameen Foundation and Grameen-Jameel facilitated nearly $56 million in financing for its partners. Grameen-Jameel has helped 16 partner microfinance institutions (MFIs) in nine countries reach more than 560,000 new clients and aims to engage more than 1 million new, active clients by the end of 2011. To achieve this goal, Grameen-Jameel offers a suite of products and services that contribute to building the microfinance industry, meet MFI needs, and increase the industry’s ability to reach poor people, especially women. Grameen Foundation’s supports Grameen-Jameel’s regional activities in the capital markets, human capital management, and social performance management.
Not only is Grameen-Jameel committed to providing MFIs in the region with the financial support they need to make a difference in the lives of poor families, but it is also committed to fostering learning among peers in the microfinance industry. This collaborative learning allows industry leaders to share best practices on how to make the most impact in the communities they serve. In 2008, Grameen-Jameel led the first Arab Microfinance Symposium, which brought together investors and MFI executives in an effort to raise the profile of microfinance as an attractive local investment. Grameen-Jameel has led training programs for practitioners, to show them how to use industry tools, and organized business-planning workshops for regional partners. It has enabled scores of practitioners to receive training on best practices and study the Grameen Bank model in Bangladesh. Grameen-Jameel also partnered with Sanabel (a local microfinance network) and CGAP (a consortium housed at the World Bank) to launch the Arabic Microfinance Gateway, to facilitate the spread of information on best practices among practitioners.
Grameen-Jameel has partners in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen.
A Path out of Poverty
With her first loan of 250 EGP (US$46), Zeinab started her business making wooden pots, crafts, and kitchen supplies. Now, she runs her own workshop from her home with three of her children. Read More >