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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.
The purpose of this grant is to strongly encourage and support the continuation of efforts to realize the goals Grameen defined in its proposal for the GrameenStart Fund (GrameenStart), a new $30 million early stage venture fund. GrameenStart will provide blended finance to incubate and grow social enterprises that are poised to positively impact the lives of poor people with an emphasis on women, smallholder farmers, and other underserved groups. GrameenStart will support and catalyze inclusive fintech innovations, agricultural technology for poor farmers and other promising social enterprises in low income African and Asian countries through customized packages comprised of seed funding, equity, quasi-equity and debt investments combined with a technical assistance sidecar. The fund will be a separate legal entity, managed under Grameen’s multifaceted umbrella of initiatives designed to promote the financial health and inclusion, economic empowerment and resilience of poor, rural women and their households.
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.
Grameen implemented pilot unconditional cash transfer programs in the Philippines, India, and Uganda to provide immediate relief assistance to those most affected by COVID-19. In the Philippines, Grameen worked with MFIs and multi-purpose cooperatives to identify and provide financial support to 180 microentrepreneurs in Iloilo and the Quezon province. They received 5,000 PHP each or 100 USD. In India, Grameen tapped its network of Grameen Mittras to reach 165 beneficiaries who received 4500 RS or 60 USD each and financial inclusion mentoring. In Uganda, Grameen provided immediate relief and support to the most vulnerable 679 refugees and host community populations in Bidi Bidi and Palorinya refugee settlements in Northwestern Uganda. The beneficiaries received 145,400 UGX or 38 USD each.
In response to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, Grameen Foundation USA (Grameen) will implement the COVID-19 RELIEF program to assist individual entrepreneurs, especially women, running microenterprises in the Philippines. Under RELIEF, Grameen will work with Microfinance Institution (MFI) partners to provide immediate relief assistance and longer-term recovery support to individual entrepreneurs and their families. Grameen will operationalize key concepts from its Resilient Life, Resilient Business (RLRB) curriculum to enhance training, product/service offerings, and linkages to better meet the needs of entrepreneur clients during the COVID-19 crisis and after.
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.
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.
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.
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 Foundation India will perform a baseline study of Water.org’s Water Credit program. The objectives of the baseline are to collect baseline information to be used in impact evaluation and to set benchmarks for key performance indicators.
The Water Credit programme is looking to bridge one of the most critical bottlenecks of water and sanitation services: Access. Through this approach, Water.org encourages Financial Service Providers (FSPs) to finance Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) loans. Smart subsidies are provided to FSPs to build their organizational capacity, identify communities’ needs through market research, develop appropriate financial products, and generate awareness on WSS. These financial products can be availed by clients to obtain improved WSS solutions such as piped water connections, water storage facilities, wells, toilets, and rainwater harvesting structures, often without much investment or intervention from the government. The Water Credit model can be sustainable and scalable as it is market-driven and can attract growth capital. The model involves the provision of credit by FSPs to individuals and households for WSS solutions–water connections, toilets, water tanks, rainwater harvesting structures. Water.org supports the partner FSPs to scale the model over time by providing technical assistance and smart subsidies to develop a WSS product line for a new market segment, an area in which many FSPs lack technical expertise.
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.
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 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 onboarding new BC Agents and also improve the viability of individual agents by testing various approaches of diversifying and increasing revenue.
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 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.
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.
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 project aims to strengthen the last-mile distribution network for the agro-inputs market system in Kigoma and Kagera Regions.
Grameen intends to take a two-pronged approach that includes:
1) Strengthening the support services to build more durable market linkages for smallholder farmers, as well as sustainable trading relationships for VB Agro-Dealers and VBAs. Grameen will advance the VBA/VB Agro-Dealer business model to enable VBA Training curricula, agent commission-based incentive structure and supply chain replenishment schedules to ensure sustainable operation of VB Agro-Dealer businesses, and
2) Strengthening the capacity of Village-Based Advisors (VBAs) so that they are more responsive to rural customers and better able to support market-based approaches for agricultural development.