The Grameen Foundation’s mission is simple: they strive to help the poorest people in the world realize their full potential. The execution of this goal, of course, is a bit more complicated. In order to provide the tools and resources that the impoverished need to better their lives, the organization focuses their efforts on four main sectors.
The first of these sectors is financial services. The foundation partners with financial institutions and other providers around the world to create products and solutions adapted to meet the needs of the poor. Their approach centers on collecting data to understand the needs of the region, driving innovation, and creating viable business models to ensure sustainability. They are involved in every aspect of the financial world, from designing software for mobile banking to financing social enterprises that strive to impact those in remote and difficult to reach areas.
The second sector in which the Grameen Foundation focuses its efforts is healthcare. They strive to improve health outcomes for the poor by creating mobile technology that links patients to the information and the trained physicians that they need. By collaborating with the private sector, NGOs, and government agencies, they have been able to create a range of programs designed to improve private healthcare, promote reproductive and sexual health education, and more. Their technological contributions to the world of healthcare have included the MOTECH initiative, which is a suite of mobile software used to relay information relevant to antenatal and neonatal care. Included within this is the Mobile Midwife Application, which “enables pregnant women, new mothers, and their families to receive SMS and/or voice messages that provide time-specific information about their pregnancies and childcare each week.” Though it began in Ghana, MOTECH has since been turned into a general platform that is deployable by other organizations.
The third sector in which the Grameen Foundation seeks to help the poor reach their potential is agriculture. Specifically, they strive to provide relevant information that will help farmers improve their livelihood. This work is again conducted largely through a suite of mobile solutions that focus on providing financial services to rural farmers. The nonprofit has also created a network of local intermediaries – known as Community Knowledge Workers – who use smartphone applications to receive and disseminate information relevant to agriculture (such as marketing prices) throughout hard to reach areas.
The fourth sector involves developing tools to help other poverty-focused organizations improve their effectiveness. These tools include the global volunteer initiative Bankers without Borders; a suite of poverty measurement tools known as the Progress out of Poverty Index; and the MOTECH Suite and Platform. Each of these tools was originally designed for the Grameen Foundation’s own use. In the spirit of facilitating a global movement towards eradicating poverty, however, they opened them up for use by organizations with similar goals.
While they are headquartered in Washington D.C., the Grameen Foundation has offices throughout the world so as to reach as many people as possible. Their efforts to harness the strength of the poor in the effort to alleviate global poverty are currently being implemented throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean – and, through the efforts of a wholly-owned subsidiary, in India as well.
– Rebecca Beyer