Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation Makes Donation to Grameen Foundation Scholarship Program

Will Help Educate 200 Bangladeshi Girls

July 8, 2010 - Grameen Foundation today announced it has received the largest single gift for its scholarship program: $155,375 from the Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation.  The Grameen Foundation Scholarship Program is a merit-based program that supports poor children in rural communities by providing tuition, books, uniforms and other related educational expenses.  The funding from the Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation will support 200 girls living in Bangladesh.  Half of the girls are pursuing degrees in the social sciences and business fields, while the rest are pursuing medical and engineering degrees.

More than half of Bangladesh’s 70 million people live on less than $1 per day and food and shelter often take priority over education.  Given the strong correlation between education and economic development in developing countries, the Grameen Foundation and the Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation are working together to help break the cycle of poverty for these students.

Founded by Pandju Merali in honor of his late wife, the Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation focuses on supporting women throughout the developing world.  Education has always been important to Mr. Merali because he never received a formal education.

“I have felt as though I could have done much more with a proper academic background” said Mr. Merali.  “By committing to educating women, particularly in higher education, I know I could help them advance in opportunity, realize more equality within their communities, and ultimately bring about positive change in their regions.”

The recipients will receive their scholarships in monthly installments and the Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation will receive progress reports and other information about each student. 

“Education plays a vital role in helping poor people create new futures for their children and we are proud to work with the Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation in making this dream a reality for Bangladeshi girls,” said Alex Counts, president of Grameen Foundation.

The funding to Grameen Foundation is part of a larger scholarship program which has supported women in more than 12 countries.  In his memoir, Africa 2 America: My Journey, Mr. Merali said, “After Shirin’s death, one of my biggest projects has been making such a scholarship program a reality.  It has become important to me for many reasons, but in particular I wanted to celebrate the memory of the marvelous woman who had been my partner for fifty-four years.”

About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit organization, helps the world’s poorest people access financial services and technology solutions 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, provide telecommunications access for the world's rural poor, and improve their access to health and agriculture information and other services.  Founded in 1997, Grameen Foundation has offices in Washington, D.C., Seattle, Washington, Hong Kong, Ghana, the Philippines and Uganda. Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, is a founding member of its board of directors, and now serves as director emeritus.  For more information, please visit