Will Lead Initiatives to Expand Mobile Agriculture and Financial Services for the Rural Poor
WASHINGTON and MEDELLÍN, Colombia, Dec. 1, 2015 – Grameen Foundation has announced the appointment of Fernando Henao Velasco as its new country director for Colombia. He will lead the organization’s efforts to expand access to agricultural information and financial services for the rural poor via mobile technology, and the creation of tools and programs to improve the lives of farming families throughout the country.
“Fernando brings to Grameen Foundation a strong passion for our work to increase opportunities for the rural poor, especially farming families. His deep knowledge of Colombia’s agricultural sector and the strong alliances he has built over years make him the ideal person to lead our team,” said David Edelstein, Interim CEO of Grameen Foundation.
A native of Colombia, Henao was previously the planning director of the Colombian Corporation for Agriculture and Livestock Research (Corpoica), the government agency that leads research and technology transfer for farmers. He also worked in Colombia’s Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Government Advisor on Coffee Affairs, and was a consultant on local development for the United Nations Development Programme in New York. He holds a B.A. Economics and a J.D. from Universidad de Los Andes and a Master of Public Administration from New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
“I am thrilled to join Grameen Foundation and to work with an incredibly talented team at the country and global level to design and implement practical technology solutions to empower people living in poverty,” said Henao. “Colombia is in the middle of an important transition that will enable us to reach and provide more economic opportunities to the millions of families living in rural areas. I look forward to building significant partnerships in Colombia and across Latin America that lead to measurable, meaningful improvements in the lives of these families.”
Grameen Foundation has worked in Latin America for more than a decade. Since opening its office in Colombia in 2011, it has focused on designing solutions that harness mobile phones and local networks of people to help poor farming households increase their productivity and income, and improve their lives. Through the Community Knowledge Worker program (called Líderes Productores in Colombia), it utilizes a network of coffee farmers to serve as peer advisors in their own communities. These advisors provide information and guidance to help fellow farmers boost the productivity and quality of their output and receive important certifications that give them access to more lucrative markets.
In addition, the foundation’s work in product sourcing through mobile technology (m-sourcing) has strengthened the connection between farmers and large grocery store chains in southern Colombia. The mobile-based tool helps to streamline interactions between farmer associations and large buyers from grocery stores to ensure that orders are met by local farmers, and to improve the accuracy and timeliness of payments to farmers.
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. For more information, please visit www.grameenfoundation.org or follow us on Twitter @GrameenFdn.
Contact: Liselle Yorke, lyorke [at] grameenfoundation.org, 202-628-3560, ext 128