No. of Recommendations: 40

The reasons that led me to decide to support the
Grameen Foundation rather than any other
microcredit organization are still the same as
they were when I posted “Grameen (1):
Apology for a nomination”
7 years ago.

Even though the rules for Foolanthropy have
changed I believe those reasons are as valid
today as they were then. If you are thinking of
donating to a microcredit agency please click
the link and give it a read. (Most of the links in
that post are outdated. You will also see that
there has been a change in the name from
Grameen Foundation USA to Grameen

The changes in the rules for this year’s
Foolanthropy are

1) a focus on financial literacy (rather than a
broad range of causes),
2) a long term commitment to that goal,
3) a concentration that will lead to greater
impact, and
4) opportunities to use the knowledge and
talents of Foolanthropists in addition to our
financial donations.
(Carrie. . . . David. . . . Tom. . . . did I get that

I believe all of these changes give us good
reason to make Grameen one of this year’s

This is how I see it. Let me know if you agree:

Muhammad Yunus was a professor of
economics. He was interviewing poor people in
a village near his university as part of his
research in economics. He was studying the
finances of households. It was at one of those
homes that he met the woman whose situation
led him to make his first loans.

Thus, the Grameen Bank began with education.
With the education of its founder in the
household and business finances of a poor
entrepreneur in rural Bangladesh.

In many senses, Yunus’ research, and,
consequently, his self-education have continued
ever since. And that striving for self-education
through research continues at the bank and
many of the organizations it has inspired
throughout the world.

The Grameen Foundation is continually doing
and encouraging research on its operations so
that they can improve their results. Two
samplings of what this research has produced
and is derived from are at the Foundation’s web

Much of this research is used to train people in
local microfinance institutions and to try to
educate bankers, banking regulators, other
bureaucrats, and politicians to work with and
support lending to the poor. For example see:

Training borrowers in the finances of business
has long been part of Grameen’s work. Much of
this is done by bringing borrowers together so
each can tell the others what has worked for
them. However, in developed countries, many
borrowers need more formal training. Grameen
affiliates are providing that training and are
continually improving it.

Grameen encourages borrowers to have their
children educated.

The Grameen Bank has education awards for its
branches. Branch banks can get one of those
awards if “If all the children of the borrowers
are in school or [have] completed at-least
primary school.” The bank encourages children
to stay in school and get university degrees. It is
increasingly granting scholarships for
undergraduate and graduate work.

In Seattle, Washington, the Grameen
Foundation has a technology center.

There it is developing software to enable local
microfinance agencies to improve their financial
information and to reduce their back office
costs. This should allow them to improve their
operations and get more loans to poor people at
lower cost. Using this software properly will
require substantial training in advanced user-
level computer literacy and advanced financial

The people of the Grameen Foundation and its
affiliates study for themselves and provide to
others a wide variety of courses in financial

1. School-boys and school-girls helping their
illiterate mothers read their passbooks and loan
repayment schedules.

2. Borrowers teaching each other how to be
successful in their businesses

3. Quick courses in the finances of businesses
for borrowers

4. Regular schooling which Grameen
encourages for all the children of clients and
which it helps make possible through the
increased income families earn by borrowing for
their businesses and through scholarships

5. Encouragement and sponsorship of research
by academics, NGOs, and governments

5A. Research done by Grameen and its affiliates

6. Training of finance specialists at micro-
finance agencies to become skilled users
of financial software,

7. Lots of stuff I’ve missed.

(8. Perhaps some amazingly innovative training
in financial literacy that some Foolanthropists
will volunteer to create and help deliver if
the Grameen Foundation is again chosen as one
of Foolanthropy’s charities.)


On a personal note, although two of my favorite
cousins* and their families live in Texas where
one of this year’s nominees (The Plan Fund)
does its work, I will still be contributing to
Grameen. Mostly because Grameen covers the
world – even Texas.

*(All of Shakespeare's cousins are favorites.
Nary an Iago nor a Lady Macbeth among them.
Cordelias and Edgars all.)
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