Grameen Foundation USA: Winner's Statement

Social Capitalists

Grameen Foundation USA

Grameen Foundation USA is a young, dynamic, global organization that applies a powerful tool, microfinance, to empower the world's poorest people to escape poverty. In just seven years, GF-USA has established a global network of 46 partners in 20 countries and has impacted an estimated 2.5 million poor people in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East.

The simplicity of microfinance is its hallmark. Very small loans are given to very poor people, mostly women, to start and expand tiny, self-sustaining businesses. As they quickly begin to earn an income, they improve their living conditions, advance the health of their families, and send the children to school.

Microfinance is amazingly effective. The borrowers' success rate surpasses that of small businesses in most wealthy countries, and the repayment rates outpace those of borrowers in the richest economies. Equally important, microfinance has a multiplier effect that expands its impact far beyond the initial borrower and her family. It generates sustainable community development, and the repaid loan funds are recycled so they continue to empower others to escape poverty. As a testament to its critical role in reducing global poverty, the United Nations has declared 2005 to be the International Year of Microcredit.

Results are what count

GF-USA is dedicated to delivering measurable results. Over the next four years, our goals are to:

  • Reach 5 million new borrowers
  • Ensure that at least half of them escape poverty within five years
  • Champion innovation in three areas: information and communications technology as a strategy for poverty reduction, pursuing industry standards for data tracking and reporting, and developing and executing innovative financing models to expand the available capital for microfinance programs

Empowering the World's poorest to escape poverty

The challenge facing us today is how to rapidly accelerate the reach of microfinance programs in order to make a real dent in world poverty. Grameen Foundation USA is responding.

Its Grameen Technology Center is harnessing the power of technology to eliminate poverty and to leverage the power of micro finance. It opens an unparalleled opportunity to improve the lives of the world's poorest people. With this doorway into the information age, people in the world's poorest villages are able to generate economic opportunity and better address the needs in their communities.

Developing innovative ways to capture financial resources for microfinance is critical. Through its Capital Markets Program, GF-USA is introducing traditional, private sector financial markets to investment opportunities that support the microfinance movement. Early results suggest that capital markets and social investors will become major contributors to the growth and success of the microfinance industry.

GF-USA's Grameen Bank Replication Program (GBRP), established in 1999, supports microfinance institutions (MFIs) and social entrepreneurs who seek to replicate the Grameen Bank approach, or scale up existing programs to provide financial services to the poor. GBRP provides financial, technical, technological, and human resource support.

Our Proud Heritage

Grameen Foundation USA sprang from a rich heritage and maintains an enduring relationship with the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. The Grameen Bank movement was started in 1976 by a young economics professor, Dr. Muhammad Yunus, when he discovered that poor women could break through poverty by taking tiny loans to start or expand tiny businesses. He transformed his vision into a movement with the money in his pocket. Today, Grameen Bank serves nearly four million borrowers in Bangladesh, with 10,000 families escaping poverty every month.

The foundation replicates the approach and success of Grameen Bank around the world by providing affordable capital, financial services, appropriate technology, and capacity building resources to those front-line microfinance institutions (MFIs) that serve the world's poorest. Dr. Yunus, the founder and director of Grameen Bank, is a founding and current board member of Grameen Foundation USA.

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The above information was provided by the profiled organization.