How has Grameen Foundation fought COVID-19?

With emergency cash relief and technology.

Camp in Uganda fighting West Nile

Emergency Cash Relief

In 2020, we pivoted to put Grameen's experience, technologies and Community Agents to work distributing unconditional cash to women whose families have been hit most severely by the pandemic. We thank our donors and could not be more grateful for your remarkable and continuing response.

In South Asia, 33% of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day and loss of income from Enhanced Community Quarantines thrust millions more people into poverty. Through our pilot COVID-19 Emergency Relief program in the Philippines, we worked with local partners to identify and provide cash payments to the most vulnerable beneficiaries, 96% of whom are women. The monies are going to desperately needed food and medicine and inputs to keep small businesses afloat.

In India, where informal day workers have no government safety nets or health insurance, lockdowns have utterly devastated families. There, we have provided emergency cash to hundreds of desperate families already, and we have set a goal to reach 6,000 more with funds to meet emergency needs and restart their small businesses.

In Uganda, in Bidi Bidi and Palorinya Refugee Settlements, we are working to select beneficiaries to receive a one-time cash grant that will cover one family’s basic necessities for an entire month (UGX 150,000 or USD 41). Beneficiaries will be selected based on a vulnerability criterion co-developed with RUFI, a financial services organization and Grameen’s implementing partner in our Bidi Bidi and FSDU SMILE efforts.

Stories of survival, thanks to Grameen Emergency Cash.


Partnering to deploy our resources to the most vulnerable


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Metlife Foundation logo

Partnering in India to deliver emergency cash to low-to-moderate income people

Efforts to mitigate the disastrous effect of the lockdown on incomes and consumption in India were critical. MetLife generously provided money for unconditional cash transfers to low-to-middle income people affected by the pandemic. Grameen Foundation will facilitate delivery of this assistance through its Community Agent Network, known in India as Mittras.

In remote areas where there are no bank branches or ATMs, poor women have a very hard time saving money to weather a crisis. Mittras—often female leaders in their communities who are better able to relate to the poor, rural women they serve—connect households to essential financial services through mobile phones. Cash transfers to these mobile money accounts will make it possible to keep food on the table and micro-businesses afloat during COVID-19.

Grameen Foundation also, separately, piloted an unrestricted COVID Emergency Cash transfer. Our generous donors have enabled us to learn how to make future cash infusion efforts more effective over the short and long term.

Community Agents. Essential workers.  

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Johnson & Johnson logo

Leveraging our Ebola expertise to fight COVID-19 in Rwanda

In partnership with Johnson & Johnson, we helped introduce mobile tools that capacitate Community Health Workers responding to the crisis. This effort is patterned on our highly successful partnership with the Ebola crisis.

In all, 55,000 Community Health Workers (CHWs) will be trained on the use of the MOTS (Mobile Training and Support) to increase awareness and knowledge of critical COVID-19 information among CHWs and the community. Grameen, the the Ministry of Health (MOH), and the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) worked together to train and deploy this CHW army.

Mobilizing emergency preparedness. How we do it.  

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J.P. Morgan logo

Partnering to support microentrepreneurs in the Philippines

In the Philippines, where so many people live precariously close to the poverty line, COVID-19 quarantines shut down or limited local travel, stores, businesses, and offices, threatening the livelihood of much of the population. Women microentrepreneurs, also primary caregivers, were especially hard hit.

Supported by J.P. Morgan, Grameen Foundation brought COVID-19 RELIEF (Response to Enhance Livelihoods of Individual Entrepreneurs and Families) to women entrepreneurs running microenterprises in Metro Manila and Cebu City. In Phase I, Grameen facilitated delivery of non-cash vouchers for pharmacies and supermarkets or in-kind packages of goods distributed through Microfinance Institution (MFI) centers. During Phase II, Grameen delivered its Resilient Life, Resilient Business curriculum to MFIs to enhance their capacity to address the needs of women microentrepreneurs and promote financial resilience during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Grameen Foundation is also, separately, piloting an unrestricted COVID Emergency Cash transfer effort. Our generous donors enabled us to learn how to make future cash infusion efforts more effective over the short- and long-term.

“We were shocked and scared of the community quarantine...[we] were scared that we’ll die of hunger. We were so happy when we received a call about the relief assistance. The assistance was really a big help to us.”  
— Soledad Regis, micro-entrepreneur in Muntinlupa City.
The digitization difference during COVID-19  

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World Vision logo

Deploying mobile training and support tools in Sierra Leone

In partnership with World Vision, we adapted our successful Mobile Training and Support (MOTS) tool to help train 5,000 Community Health Workers (CHWs) on COVID-19. The MOTS platform has been a critical part of our success in the fight against EBOLA.

Our MOTS system is designed to rapidly train people using mobile phones technology in remote, isolated areas. This enables CHWs to gain vital awareness and knowledge of COVID-19 information and response protocols, which in turn educates the community. A key feature of MOTS is the ability to train in the language of their choice at their own convenience.

Our MOTS technology is built for health crises