Grameen Foundation Expands Innovative Skills-Based Volunteer Program to Latin America and Asia

Alliance Program Will Tap Highly-Skilled Professionals to Help Poverty-Focused Organizations Expand their Reach and Impact

November 11, 2010 - Grameen Foundation today announced the creation of the Bankers without Borders® (BwB) Alliance Program which focuses on helping to expand its skills-based volunteering initiative to Latin America and Asia.  The BwB Alliance will help microfinance and technology-for-development (T4D) initiatives better manage their rapid growth and improve their reach, impact and sustainability by using skills-based volunteers around the world. 

The first three Alliance members selected are:
• Promuc of Peru
• Contactar of Colombia
• Access Development Services of India. 

Each will receive up to $30,000 in seed capital, technical assistance and operational support to help increase their capacity to utilize volunteers.  The BwB Alliance Program is made possible with support from BwB’s presenting sponsor J.P. Morgan.

“Our experience with Bankers without Borders shows that microfinance and technology-for-development initiatives can overcome many strategic and operational challenges by building these high-value, pro-bono services into their business planning and execution rather than using them in an ad hoc manner,” said Grameen Foundation President and CEO Alex Counts.  “Through our Alliance Program, we will connect these organizations to the ‘skill-anthropists’ with the expertise they need.”

The BwB Alliance member organizations were selected through a competitive process and announced during a Grameen Foundation forum on making volunteerism a new business model for microfinance and technology-for-development initiatives held at the National Press Club.  The foundation will launch a new competition in January 2011 to identify the next round of Alliance member organizations with a focus on Africa.

“Microfinance is a noble business so long as it is done with professionalism, ethics and transparency. Bankers without Borders provides an excellent opportunity to contribute these values to the industry,” added Alberto Lira, General Manager of PROMUC.

With Bankers without Borders’ support, the new Alliance members will provide volunteer consulting to more than 20 MFIs in product development, risk management, business planning, developing management information systems, and human resource planning and management.

This initiative also demonstrates the growing interest in corporate volunteerism programs. Recent surveys show that 60 percent of American companies offer skilled volunteer opportunities to their employees, while in-kind donations of goods and services by corporate foundations rose by 5 percent in 2009.
“We are pleased to support the global expansion of Bankers without Borders to help advance private sector support for volunteerism to improve the lives and livelihoods of the poor.” said Tricia Loughlin, Executive Director, J.P. Morgan.  "To date, 41 J.P. Morgan employees have worked on Bankers without Borders projects globally."

While volunteers have historically played an important role in international development, Grameen Foundation’s Bankers without Borders is one of the first initiatives to strategically use skill-based volunteerism as a vital resource in the microfinance and technology-for-development sectors.  Since its launch two years ago, it has already managed more than 150 pro-bono projects and built a volunteer corps of more than 5,400 highly-skilled active and retired business professionals from diverse fields.  Collectively, more than 440 volunteers have contributed more than 50,000 hours of donated service worth an estimated $4 million.

At the event, Grameen Foundation also released a new report, “Volunteerism: An Old Concept, A New Business Model for Scaling Microfinance and Technology-for-Development Initiatives” and premiered a video documenting the experiences of BwB volunteers to date. 

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About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit organization, helps the world's poorest people lift themselves out of poverty by providing financing, technology support and management strategies to the local organizations that serve them. It also spearheads technology initiatives that create new microbusiness opportunities for the poor and improve the poor's access to health, agricultural and financial information and other services. Founded in 1997, Grameen Foundation has offices in Washington, DC; Seattle, WA; Colombia; Ghana; Hong Kong; the Philippines; and Uganda. Microfinance pioneer Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, is a founding member of its Board of Directors, and now serves as director emeritus. For more information, please visit