Grameen Foundation launches program to promote inclusive growth and reduce poverty among women and youth in four Pacific Island nations

Innovation Fund competition will award grants for women’s economic empowerment projects

Manila, October 6, 2022 - Grameen Foundation has launched BELUU, a three-year program to enhance women’s capacity to shape and thrive in a more connected business environment, demonstrating the benefits of inclusive development, women’s economic empowerment (WEE), and democratic values that foster participation from all key stakeholders The program will focus on the power of the blue and green economies to increase the market participation of women entrepreneurs in the island nations of Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu, and the Marshall Islands. Under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO), BELUU is co-funded by the United States and Taiwan and is expected to reach more than 56,000 women and youth entrepreneurs and community members.

Isolation has resulted in underdeveloped economies in BELUU’s targeted nations and in high barriers to market engagement, especially for female islanders. High dependencies on foreign aid, government payments, migration, and remittances has led to an undeveloped private sector, soaring unemployment among youth, disinvestment in food production, and pockets of poverty in rural areas and among ethnic minorities. Increasing frequency and intensity of tropical storms also threaten islanders livelihoods and welfare, and COVID-19 border closures have disrupted supply chains and reduced capacity to travel to markets.

“Investing in growing and sustaining women’s enterprises in coastal lands and cities, and in the communities that enable them, will create inclusive growth and reduce poverty while also enhancing nations’ resilience to climate change, COVID-19 and gender-based violence,” said Brent Chism, interim president and CEO of Grameen Foundation.

Drawing on guiding principles of the blue and green economies—sustainable economic growth can be achieved alongside social inclusion, human well-being, and environmental preservation—BELUU will focus on the potential of the Pacific’s lands and waters to deepen the market participation and resilience of women entrepreneurs.

A key component of BELUU will be to create an enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment (WEE) by fostering growth of local civil society organizations (CSOs) and private sector entities (PSEs) via a Community of Practice (CoP) to improve networks and knowledge exchange among members. The CoP will be supported by a digital knowledge platform called DEEPR to provide CoP members relevant technical resources.

In partnership with the CoP, Grameen will establish an Innovation Fund and manage a competitive process to award 10-12 organizations with Innovation Grants for women’s economic empowerment projects. To assist innovators in achieving the outcomes of their projects, Grameen will match them with consultants drawn from a roster of local, regional, and global experts, including executive volunteers from Grameen’s Bankers without Borders™ network.

BELUU is designed to reach 56,047 people, including 100 women and men leaders of CSOs/PSEs, 6,031 women and youth entrepreneurs and their male counterparts, and 49,956 community members.


About Grameen Foundation

Grameen Foundation is a global nonprofit whose mission is to enable the poor, especially women, to create a world without poverty and hunger. In collaboration with our partners, we harness the power of digital data to create tech-forward tools for self-sufficiency and deliver them through local Community Agent networks. The Grameen Foundation Model is transformative regardless of Internet access, smartphone ownership or the ability to read. More information about Grameen Foundation is available at


Jennifer Doak-Mathewson, Director of Marketing and Communications | (202) 996-3496

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