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Grameen Foundation USA

Foolanthropy 2003
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Fully one-fifth of humanity -- some 1.3 billion people -- struggles to survive on less than $1.00 per day. Grameen Foundation USA (GF-USA) aims to help these people by loaning them small amounts of money so that they can create livelihoods for themselves and make their way out of poverty with dignity.

These livelihoods, micro-enterprises financed by GF-USA and its grassroots partner organizations, might involve buying a cow to sell the milk, or purchasing raw materials to make beautifully intricate furniture. Some longtime borrowers can get loans large enough to buy cell phones, which enable them to essentially become their village's phone booth, taking messages and permitting people to call for a doctor or to transact business. More and more of rural Bangladesh is gaining telecommunications services solely through Grameen, with 40,000 phones already in place in more than 17,000 villages, and a similar new program in Uganda has now begun, projecting 5,000 phones in place over the next five years.

The micro-finance programs Grameen Foundation USA supports actively screen clients to target the "poorest of the poor," who then join forces with friends or relatives in small borrowing groups. Once each loan recipient gets her money, she begins turning her life around -- through her own hard work and ingenuity. Borrowers are expected to save part of their earnings, which helps limit their vulnerability to natural disasters, sickness and other common setbacks.

GrameenLoan repayment rates for 18 of the 21 GF-USA directly supported micro-finance programs are 96% or higher. The group dynamic plays a part here, because if payments aren't made on the loan, others in the group miss opportunities to receive larger loans and other business support. Money loaned out through Grameen has nearly an unlimited return. A $100 donation becomes a loan that's usually repaid within one year and that is then re-loaned and re-loaned indefinitely, helping countless families rise out of destitution.

According to one independent study commissioned by the World Bank, 120,000 Grameen Bank clients rise above the poverty line each year. Infant mortality among participating families drops by 34%.

In its own words, "Grameen Foundation USA works in partnership with the Grameen Bank, pioneer of small loans to the poor, to fight poverty all over the world. The Grameen Bank was started in Bangladesh in 1976 as an experiment of how a small amount of credit could affect the lives of the rural poor. It has since loaned more than 2 billion dollars to millions of people. Grameen Foundation USA was founded to advance the philosophy and work of Grameen."

Learn more about the remarkable history of the Grameen movement. And then please consider joining us as we help further this most inspiring cause.

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