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To support the economic recovery and build the resilience of women-owned and women-led microenterprises, Grameen Foundation USA (Grameen), with support from the USAID DELIVER program under the Delivering E-learning & Livelihood training for Entrepreneurs’ Resilience for Women (DELIVER-Resilience for Women) project, will leverage, expand and scale its digital Resilient Life, Resilient Business (RLRB) curriculum to reach more women micro entrepreneurs beneficiaries.
RLRB is an integrated training curriculum that strengthens micro entrepreneurs’ resilience by addressing key risks and stresses that they and their families face, such as health shocks, calamities, and natural disasters and improves their capacity for survival and growth. The RLRB curriculum leverages an adapted resilience framework originally developed for disaster-risk reduction projects to articulate the relationship between shocks that women entrepreneurs face and the recovery and resilience strategies that they can deploy. Grameen will collaborate with microfinance institutions (MFIs), financial service providers (FSP), and other microenterprise support organizations to leverage the RLRB curriculum to train two thousand (2,000) women microentrepreneurs and to improve their use of their financial assets so that they survive and thrive in unstable economic environments.
WAGE is a global programming consortium composed of American Bar Association, Rule of Law Initiative; Grameen Foundation; Center for International Private Enterprise; and Search for Common Ground, along with 43 resource partners. WAGE develops and implements strategic initiatives, rapid response activities, and collaborative research within three core thematic areas: gender-based violence; women, peace & security; and women’s economic empowerment. Our goal is to strengthen the capacity of civil society in target countries to effectively advance the status of women and girls. Grameen Foundation is leading several current initiatives, including the Reducing Barriers to Women’s Economic Empowerment in Central America, and the Business and Social Support in Timor Leste program, and is jointly developing several more.
This implementation record is for Phase 2 of the project. The proposal builds on the existing initiative currently being implemented by the Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) consortium in Sri Lanka, known as Strengthening the Role of Women Leaders in Promoting Peace and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka, and integrates a women’s economic empowerment (WEE) approach within the existing women, peace, and security (WPS) program, which includes gender-based violence (GBV) components. Grameen will implement specific and additional interventions to support WEE within the existing framework of the project. WEE activities will be implemented by the same local partners and within the existing structures of the project to ensure WEE activities are meaningfully integrated with WPS activities rather than implemented in parallel.
In 2018, Grameen Foundation co-launched WAGE, a four-year, global program to advance the status of women and girls worldwide. It aims to support women’s economic empowerment; prevent gender-based violence; and advance women’s roles in peacebuilding, mediation, and reform processes. WAGE core partners also include the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), and Search for Common Ground.
Grameen Foundation is leading WAGE’s first strategic initiative, “Reducing Barriers to Women’s Economic Empowerment in Central America.” Working in El Salvador and Honduras, we are assessing the key barriers faced by women entrepreneurs, particularly in gaining access to finance. That assessment will guide the provision of technical assistance to local microfinance institutions that serve women (ODEF, CrediCampo, PADECOMSM). The initiative will also support the development of a loan matching fund administered by Kiva and address barriers posed by gender-based violence, conflict and insecurity, and social practices that inhibit women’s abilities to start up, finance and grow their businesses.
Addressing the intertwined, gendered business and social challenges faced by female-owned micro and small enterprises (MSEs) is a critical step to combating widespread household poverty and ensuring a stronger economic future for Timor-Leste. Given the interlinked nature of poverty and gender-based violence (GBV) in Timor-Leste, where rates of abuse and domestic violence against women are higher in poorer areas, women MSE owners need a holistic set of services that can address the financial, business, and social constraints (such as GBV) that they face. Microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Timor-Leste are currently providing access to finance to women entrepreneurs, but services are not attuned to gender norms or the risk of GBV, nor linked to business and social support services. At the same time, women’s empowerment-focused civil society organizations (WE CSOs) have developed business skills and GBV trainings that aim to reduce Timorese women and girls’ vulnerability to poverty and violence, but these do not always reach MFI clients. Given the lack of institutional linkages, female entrepreneurs are not able to access or use microfinance or training in an optimal fashion, reducing the resilience, growth potential and local economic impact of their businesses.
Grameen Foundation will leverage its unique expertise in financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment to lead the Business and Social support to female Entrepreneurs in Timor-Leste (BEST) program. A strategic initiative of the DOS/GWI-funded Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) program, BEST will enable MFIs and WE CSOs to align their respective social development goals in order to provide female entrepreneurs access to both financial and social support. To ensure the requisite expertise in GBV and women’s rights, Grameen will partner with American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI); for a successful implementation grounded in the local context, Grameen will partner with Alola Foundation, a leading WE CSO. Over 24 months, Grameen and ABA ROLI will build the capacity of local MFIs and WE CSOs through technical assistance and small grants that facilitate the development, piloting and evaluation of formal linkages that ultimately enable poor women to succeed as entrepreneurs. Through geographic targeting of districts with the highest poverty headcount, the project will serve female entrepreneurs most at risk to GBV. A research and learning component will support future replication, adaptation, and scaling.
With support from Ford Foundation, Grameenis leading the eighteen month Women’s Economic Empowerment in India program (November 2019 - April 2021) to catalyze women’s financial inclusion and entrepreneurship opportunities in rural India. Grameen and its partners will first expand the Grameen Mittra social entrepreneurship model and second, advance the SDG Impact Bond model.
Under activity one, Grameen and its partners will expand the Mittra network by onboarding 400 new female agents, who are anticipated to serve 200,000 rural end-clients in Nashik district in Maharashtra. The Mittra model incorporates: customer education, onboarding, and servicing; product and business case development with additional partners; and selection and specialized training of new female agents.
Under activity two, Grameen and its partners will advance the innovative SDG Impact Bond model in order to accelerate economic and social outcomes for agriculture MSMEs and their beneficiaries throughout India. Specifically, Grameen will provide a First Loss Default Guarantee (FLDG) which will function as a guarantee to those impact bond investors and funders who invest in the Agriculture Impact Bonds.
With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor, Grameen Foundation is implementing a multi-sectoral capacity building project to integrate the issues of child labor alleviation and acceptable conditions of work into WEE initiatives. In partnership with the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, we are developing and deploying a new toolkit to better equip policy makers and service providers to educate women entrepreneurs and ensure women-led enterprises can improve livelihoods responsibly, and comply with laws protecting children and promoting acceptable conditions of work. After testing in two strategic locations, El Salvador and the Philippines, the tools will become available for broader distribution and global application.
With support from Ford Foundation, and in partnership with Grameen Foundation India (GFI) and Grameen Capital India (GCI), Grameen Foundation USA (GFUSA) is leading the eighteen month Women’s Economic Empowerment in India program (November 2019 - April 2021) to catalyze women’s financial inclusion and entrepreneurship opportunities in rural India. Grameen and its partners will first expand the Grameen Mittra social entrepreneurship model and second, advance the SDG Impact Bond model.
Under activity one, GFUSA and GFI will expand the Mittra network by onboarding 400 new female agents, who are anticipated to serve 200,000 rural end-clients in Nashik district in Maharashtra. The Mittra model incorporates: customer education, onboarding, and servicing; product and business case development with additional partners; and selection and specialized training of new female agents.
Under activity two, GFUSA and GCI will advance the innovative SDG Impact Bond model in order to accelerate economic and social outcomes for agriculture MSMEs and their beneficiaries throughout India. Specifically, GFUSA will provide a First Loss Default Guarantee (FLDG) of $213,942, which will function as a guarantee to those impact bond investors and funders who invest in the Agriculture Impact Bonds. $567,942 in funding from Ford Foundation will enable GFUSA to refine both models with the aim to further scale and replicate throughout India and in other country contexts.
Grameen Foundation was awarded the opportunity to work on the Women’s Employment and Economic Recovery Activity (WEERA), a three-year, $1 million initiative led by the American Bar Association, Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI). WEERA will address constraints to women’s meaningful participation in the economy (especially post-COVID 19) across three main focus areas: (1) restrictive legal and regulatory barriers; (2) lack of access to credit to start and grow businesses; and (3) harmful gender norms which limit women’s economic participation and normalize gender-based violence (GBV). Under the second focus area, Grameen will launch an Innovation Prize to provide financial and technical assistance to two or three financial service providers to pilot and/or expand financial products/services that meet the needs of women-led micro/small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), especially through the use of digital financial services (DFS). In line with Women's Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDPs) interest in private sector engagement, Grameen will focus on unlocking co-investment by commercial banks and mobile network operators like MTN through the Innovation Prize facility. Grameen will engage both a part-time Access to Finance Consultant and teams of Bankers without Borders volunteers to provide technical assistance and project monitoring support to Innovation Prize recipients.
The Women Entrepreneurs in Northern Ghana Gain Access to Integrated Services through Agent Networks (WE GAIN) program is a new strategic initiative of the Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) consortium led by Grameen with support from ABA ROLI. WE GAIN will build the capacity of three local CSOs (RISE Ghana, Ghana Development Community Association, and HealthKeepers Network) to deliver an integrated, market-based, high-impact package of financial and non-financial information, products, services, and referrals (Digital Financial Services plus (DFS+)) via existing CSO agent networks and MTN’s mobile money platform. Over the course of two years, WE GAIN will increase the sustainable access of women entrepreneurs in northern Ghana to a range of financial, health, GBV and other critical services they need to achieve personal and business growth and resilience.
Through the “Addressing Barriers to Sustainable Peace and Stability in Myanmar” strategic initiative, Search for Common Ground, Grameen Foundation, ABA ROLI, and Yaung Chi Thit will support a cohort of women leaders in Rakhine State to promote lasting peace and inclusive economic development through collaborative solutions at the community level. Women political and civil society leaders from two Rakhine townships will be selected, capacitated, and empowered to address barriers to lasting peace and economic stability in Rakhine State. The women leaders will be supported to implement peacebuilding and economic development initiatives and to meaningfully participate in related decision-making processes at the community level. The project will also increase community-level support for women’s leadership roles and their political and economic participation.
The goal of the Phase Two of the Digital Inclusion via Education (DIVE) program is to drive sustained behavior change in adoption and usage of digital financial services among low income populations in India through scaling the “Grameen Mittras” community agent network. The program will reach an additional 500,000 people in Nagpur district of Maharashtra over 18 months. Grameen Foundation for Social Impact (GFSI) with support from Citi will leverage strong use cases for digital finance identified so far (balance enquiries, mobile recharge, cash withdrawals, bill payments etc) and combine digital financial literacy with convenient access to digital services. The Grameen Mittra approach employed in the project is designed for scalability, sustainability and effectiveness.
Grameen is working with Digipay (a mobile-based digital payments solution platform that offers bills payment, e-Load, e-PINs, Mobile Money and microinsurance) and Gloriosa (a financing company) to develop a revolving loan Fund. The Fund shall be utilized to make a loan to community agents, who are registered with Digipay, to finance their working capital, thus enabling them to grow their enterprises.
Grameen will conduct an action research project to strengthen the Business Correspondent (BC) model in India. The project aims to answer the following key questions on the profitability and sustainability of BC networks that can be integrated into the BC business model to make them more effective in driving financial inclusion amongst low income people, particularly women in rural India. The research will drive informed pilots with established Business Correspondent Network Managers (BCNMs) to test more cost effective and agile ways of establishing and on-boarding new BC Agents and also improve viability of individual agents by testing various approaches of diversifying and increasing revenue.
The Transform Agriculture in Uttar Pradesh program builds on a knowledge partnership developed by Gates with the Department of Agriculture, Government of Uttar Pradesh (GoUP) since 2018 for the purposes of driving inclusive agricultural transformation in the state of UP. In short, the program seeks to transform the agricultural sector in select districts of UP by promoting a Food Systems approach to agriculture through nutrition-focused crop diversification, introducing innovative, women-friendly, and climate-smart technology, and developing market linkages. The program has been led to date by Ernst & Young (EY); in this current 12-month grant, GFUSA (as prime) and GFI (as project manager and technical support) will support EY to continue this important work while adding an additional focus on facilitating financial service linkages for the lighthouse FPOs. The project will also intersect well with Grameen's upcoming work supporting FPOs in Uttar Pradesh.
Grameen developed the digital farm development plan (FDP), now called FarmGrow, for cacao farmers in Indonesia in collaboration with Mars and Rainforest Alliance. Grameen is now using the solution in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire under the Netherlands Space Office-funded Sat4Farming project. Through the FarmGrow mobile application, field officers of cocoa traders collect farm-level data that is analyzed using “smart logic” to allow for personalized FDPs that guide farming households to plan ahead and better manage cost and financing of their farming operations. Most importantly, the “business” plan provides a snapshot of the potential income (or loss) over the long-term that can be generated from following recommended practices.
The Agripath consortium, made up of the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), Institute of Sociology (IoS) of the University of Bern, Grameen, GFI, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), and Farmbetter Ltd., aims to bring sustainable agriculture to scale by identifying, evaluating, and promoting promising pathways for digitally supported agricultural advisory services that effectively and efficiently empower female and male smallholders to make informed decisions and sustainably increase their agricultural productivity, income, and climate resilience through the uptake of sustainable farming practices. AgriPath will bring together and compare three types of digital advisory systems: Grameen’s agent-based facilitated model, farmbetter’s self-service model, and a hybrid with the agent as the main user of advanced app features and farmers using some features by themselves. In effect, the project will provide first-hand empirically grounded evidence to help mainstream the use of tailor-made DAS in extension services and private investments for the upscaling of sustainable agriculture in Africa and Asia. The project’s unique and innovative mix of research methods will contribute to a better understanding of farmers’ behaviour and household decision processes. Finally, it is a major contribution to the scientific debate on gendered, youth and community access to and use of DAS, technology adoption and long-term change of farming systems.
Grameen will deploy 64 American volunteers to the Philippines over a four-year period to build the capacity of coconut farmer groups, agribusinesses, extension providers and financial service providers. This assistance will be designed to increase the productivity, profitability and resilience of the Philippines’ coconut smallholder farmers. The specific objectives are to a) increase agricultural sector productivity and profitability and b) expand agricultural sector access to financial services while encouraging the application of technology and innovation as a cross-cutting theme. 16 hosts agencies will be selected to receive support from the volunteers.
The overall goal of the Digital Knowledge Hub (DAK-Hub) is to identify and support the critical digital agriculture solutions both present and needed to help low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) achieve crucial agricultural development goals. The DAK-Hub will be essential for tracking and monitoring digital services and solutions for small-scale producers (SSPs) worldwide, and will result in the increased quality, availability, and utility of data and evidence as a driver for inclusive and sustainable agricultural transformation and investment in ag-tech. The DAK-Hub will be implemented by a partnership of Wageningen University and Research, GSMA, Grameen Foundation, and the Netherlands Platform for Inclusive Finance (NpM).
In March 2020, the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) and Grameen Foundation (Grameen) launched the Extension and Advisory Services Information System (EASIS) project, which aims to enhance the dairy production management capacity of local dairy carabao farmers in Nueva Ecija by improving the extension services offered by extension officers to smallholder farmers. This pilot project will streamline and improve the extension and advisory services provided by PCC to dairy carabao farmers through the use of digital technology.
Under the first phase of the project (March to October 2020), Grameen created five learning videos, and identified, designed and developed prototypes of digital tools, including a Content Delivery Tool (CDT) to disseminate the learning videos, and a Quick Response Tool (QRT) to facilitate communication between PCC and the field and to improve PCC’s response time for field issues.
Under the current, second phase of the project (May 2021 to March 2022), Grameen will now develop and pilot test the Quick Response Tools, renamed as the iHealth and iFeed applications. The iHealth application will help extension officers and field veterinarians diagnose carabao diseases and provide farmers with appropriate recommendations. The iFeed application will help extension officers and farmers compute the appropriate composition and amount of feed for optimum milk production. Grameen will also develop an External Customer Satisfaction Rating System, which will allow farmers to rate the service they receive from the extension officers.
The EASIS project aims to develop an ICT-based extension and advisory service information system customized to the needs of the smallholder dairy buffalo farmers in the Philippines. Grameen will work with Philippine Carabao Center to design, test and rollout a breakthrough solution that will leverage the existing cohort and network of village-based knowledge brokers to act as an advisory pool, providing access to information and immediate response to address the concerns and challenges of farmers raising livestock, including but not limited to buffalo disease diagnosis and control, herd and breeding management, as well as product handling, processing and marketing. The project shall be implemented in three phases:
Phase 1: Identification of Scope of Work and Learning Modules Development
Phase 2: Mobile EAS App Solution Implementation and Testing
Phase 3: Farmer Profiling, Monitoring and Evaluation and Roll out of Mobile EAS App
For Phase 1, Grameen will be performing market research activities and employing a human-centered design process to produce five learning videos, prototype and test the mobile EASIS application, and conduct a readiness assessment for the next phase of the project.
MANDI is a $1.65 million, 24-month initiative that aims to "Strengthen farmer producer organizations (FPO) capacity to connect smallholder farmers, especially women, to markets and finance, in order to improve farmers' incomes and resilience." Grameen/GFI will build the capacity of 40 FPOs in Uttar Pradesh, India to better support smallholder farmers (especially women) to diversify and intensify their agricultural production (such as planting vegetables during an additional cropping cycle) by using digital technology and data to connect them to sources of extension, markets and finance. The Grameen Mittras will be leveraged to support farmers’ access to digital payments; FPOs will also be assisted in linking farmers to additional financial products that improve household resilience to COVID-19 and other shocks. Thirdly, Grameen/GFI will also build capacity in gender mainstreaming to improve outreach, membership and leadership by women.
Under the MOTS Enabled Response to COVID In Rwanda (MERCIR) project, Grameen will support Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) response to the COVID-19 crisis in Rwanda by introducing mobile tools that capacitate community health workers responding to the crisis. Given the existing collaboration between J&J and Grameen under the Innovative Medicines Initiative-funded EBOVAC/EBODAC program, the partners are well-positioned to leverage their experience developing and deploying relevant mobile tools in Sierra Leone to now respond to new threats facing vulnerable communities in Rwanda. Grameen, the the Ministry of Health (MOH), and the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) will train 55,000 CHWs on the use of the MOTS service over a six-month period. The overall purpose of this project is to increase awareness and knowledge of critical COVID-19 information among CHWs, and subsequently Rwandan communities, to reduce the threat of coronavirus spread in Rwanda.
Celo Foundation (Celo), through its Social Dividend Campaign, has granted Grameen Foundation (Grameen) $200,000 to implement a cash transfer program using the Valora application and Celo Dollars (cUSD) for aid delivery. The program aims (1) to provide capital support to microentrepreneurs in the Philippines as they recover from the effects of COVID-19; (2) and to publish a Use Case Report reflecting opportunities for further using cUSD and Valora to improve beneficiaries’ income and resilience, and the sustainability of their enterprises. Grameen will partner with Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities Initiative (Atikha), and their subsidiary, eKolife Marketing Cooperative (eKolife), to identify, train, and support 800 overseas Filipino worker (OFW) beneficiaries in using the Valora application and cUSD for their businesses. At least 85% of the recipients will be women and each beneficiary is slated to receive 200 cUSD.
In the Philippines, Grameen has found that liquidity challenges significantly constrain the ability of female microentrepreneurs to operate as part of the Community Agent Network (CAN), but that opportunities exist to iterate solutions in partnership with fintechs, microfinance institutions and others.
Grameen, IDEO and Celo will build on their combined experience and interests under a joint action research project that broadly seeks to understand how resolving liquidity management constraints of community agents can position them to be more successful entrepreneurs, and thus more viable (future or current) offerors of Valora or other cUSD products/services.
This 18-month project will unfold in three phases: In Phase I, the partners will complete research on the cost of liquidity management, barriers and current process. In Phase 2, Grameen will leverage the results of the research to define a solution prototype; the prototype will be used to build a minimum viable product (software) to demonstrate the feasibility of the solution. As much as possible, Grameen will leverage on existing partnerships of the Alliance for Prosperity that may have existing APIs and/or software relevant to the solution. In Phase 3, Grameen, together with our fintech partners, will select 100 women DFS agents and assist them in opening Valora wallets and use the software solution developed in Phase 2 to support their liquidity requirements. A portion of the grant will be used to make revolving cUSD microcredit loans to women agents, disbursed to their Valora wallets. Lastly, an assessment of the results and impact of the proof of concept will be completed with recommendations on modifications needed to replicate and scale the pilot in other locations.
Globally almost a billion people survive on less than $2 per day, living predominately in isolated rural and hard-to-reach locations. They have limited access to goods, services and information. A rapidly growing social enterprise sector is working hard to address the challenges this population faces. In an effort to accelerate the scale and impact of social enterprises, Grameen Foundation built TaroWorks, a field service management platform that helps these organizations do their work, particularly in remote or disconnected areas.
TaroWorks is collaborating with Cisco Systems to support the economic empowerment of the poor by enhancing the operational capacities of non-profits and social enterprises working to alleviate poverty in emerging markets worldwide. The current grant will allow TaroWorks to continue building its customer base.
Funding from Metlife Foundation will enable Grameen to support the families of the healthcare workers in India who lost their lives due to Covid-19, while serving the community at large during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in three cities of India. Grameen will implement this program in partnership with its not for profit Indian subsidiary India Grameen Foundation for Social Impact (GFSI). The grant will be disbursed as emergency cash assistance to help these households in the cities of Delhi-NCR region, Nagpur (in Maharashtra) and Varanasi (in Uttar Pradesh). Over the next 12 months, this assistance will enable the affected households to meet their essential household consumption needs in the face of loss of the earning family member, loss of employment and livelihoods, thereby saving lives and preventing these affected households from falling into poverty trap. To document the stories of these families, Grameen will develop a coffee table/e-book, "Remembering COVID-19 Warriors".