Grameen Foundation Founder to Step Down as President and CEO


Washington, D.C., May 15, 2015—Grameen Foundation has announced that its founder Alex Counts will step down from his position as president and chief executive officer later this month. Counts has served as president and CEO at Grameen Foundation for more than 18 years. As founder, he will remain active in the organization.

David Edelstein, executive vice president for global programs, will serve as interim president and CEO until a permanent successor has been named. Edelstein has been a part of Grameen Foundation’s executive team for five years. Throughout his career at the foundation, he has played an integral role in building its innovative programs across Asia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

“On behalf of our board, I thank Alex for his passion and dedication. He created and built Grameen Foundation into an organization that is recognized and respected as an innovative and impactful global leader in the field of poverty alleviation,” said Robert Eichfeld, chair of Grameen Foundation’s board of directors. “Through his leadership, Grameen Foundation has established relationships throughout the public and private sectors and with civil society to ensure that we achieve lasting impact in underserved communities across the globe. It has been a privilege to work with him for these past 13 years. He leaves a remarkable legacy.”

Counts, who began his international development career at Grameen Bank, started Grameen Foundation in 1997 with $6,000 in seed funding from 2006 Noble Peace Prize recipient, Professor Muhammad Yunus. Under Counts’ leadership, Grameen Foundation has grown to $20 million in annual revenue, with more than 200 employees supporting work in eight countries. It has spawned several joint ventures, subsidiaries, and companies, such as Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Ltd., Grameen Capital India, the Mifos Initiative, and most recently, Taroworks LLC. Since its inception, Grameen Foundation has reached millions of beneficiaries with solutions to help them increase their income, save for the future, and live healthy lives.

Reflecting on his tenure, Counts, said, “It has been an honor to serve as Grameen Foundation’s president and CEO for more than 18 years. Our journey began humbly but with essential support and inspiration from Professor Muhammad Yunus and his team in Bangladesh. Today we are a leading international humanitarian organization advancing the causes of poverty reduction, microfinance, technology for development, and social business. Together with our investees, joint ventures, subsidiaries, partners, and 20,000 strong Bankers without Borders volunteer reserve corps, the staff and board of Grameen Foundation are poised to significantly advance the movement to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030.  I am pleased to entrust the leadership of this organization to a new generation of daring innovators, and I will remain supportive until the job is complete.” (His complete announcement, published yesterday on the Grameen Foundation blog is available here.)

“As a founding board member and director emeritus of Grameen Foundation, I commend and applaud Alex Counts for his 18 years of service as president and CEO as he begins to transition out of that role,” said Professor Muhammad Yunus. “I intend to remain involved and supportive of Grameen Foundation, especially during this period until the new CEO is appointed. I will work with the foundation’s chairman, interim CEO and others to ensure that the organization remains a powerful force for advancing poverty reduction, the Grameen philosophy and the social business movement.”

Grameen Foundation board co-vice-chair, Peter Cowhey, dean of the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego, will lead a search committee for a new president and CEO, starting immediately. The board will consider internal and external candidates with the assistance of a leading executive search firm.

About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation is a global nonprofit organization that helps the world’s poorest people achieve their full potential by providing access to essential financial services and information on health and agriculture that can transform their lives. Founded in 1997, it delivers solutions that respond to the needs of the poor, as well as tools that help poverty-focused organizations become more effective. It focuses on initiatives that can achieve widespread impact and uses an open-source approach that makes it easy for other organizations to adopt them broadly. Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and the Grameen family of companies, is an inaugural member of its Board of Directors, and now serves as director emeritus. Grameen Foundation is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in the U.S., Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter @GrameenFdn

Contact: Liselle Yorke, 202-628-3560, ext 128, lyorke [at]