International news often features a story of hope and progress in Africa, matched with one of war and poverty. The vast majority of the world's poorest countries are in Africa, and more than half the continent’s 780 million people are estimated to live on less than US$1.25 a day. This, along with other problems – such as civil conflict, natural disasters, and HIV/AIDS – makes the need for strong poverty-alleviation initiatives even more urgent.
- 35 percent of Malawians suffer chronic malnutrition
- 62 percent of Nigerians live on less than $1.25 a day
- More than 50 percent of Senegal's men, and 70 percent of its women, over 15 years old are illiterate
- 77 percent of Rwanda’s population lives on less than US$1.25 a day
|Credit Tamara Plush for Grameen Foundation|
Grameen Foundation has supported microfinance in Africa since 2002, when our Village Solutions program started Village Phone-Uganda. In 2006, we launched a more comprehensive Sub-Saharan Africa strategy with the goal of increasing microfinance and technology services to poor rural communities, developing the management skills of young MFIs and filling part of the funding void they face. Based on that strategy, we have started or expanded programs in Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda.
Africa has become a showcase for a variety of Grameen Foundation’s programs. Under the leadership of our Africa Advisory Council, our network in Africa now touches the lives of more than 1.5 million families. We work closely with local MFIs to help strengthen their management, guarantee their financing needs, and measure their clients’ progress out of poverty.
Other programs are making a significant impact by adapting technologies to serve microfinance and international development communities. Our AppLab and Community Knowledge Worker programs in Uganda provide unparalleled access to critical information and resources for the rural poor, such as weather reports for farmers and advice for growing and protecting crops. Other programs, such as our MOTECH initiative in Ghana, offer health information for expectant and new mothers.
We realize that we can make a greater impact on poor families in Africa by sharing our tools, our lessons learned, and our resources with those who share our goal of ending global poverty. We convene conferences, peer-learning meetings, and professional mentoring through our Bankers without Borders® volunteer program, so our successes will ultimately be replicated and spread throughout Africa.
A Path out of Poverty
When his ox died over a year ago, Yibeltal could not plow his field. He borrowed 800 birr ($90) from Amhara Credit and Savings Institution (ACSI) and purchased a new ox for 1,400 birr ($160). “Without the service ACSI provides, we would have to go to [traditional moneylenders] and pay high interest, or rent out our land for minimal income,” Yibeltal said. “It is great to have this opportunity.” Read More >