Grameen Bank’s Sisters
While in Bangladesh, I’ll be learning about micro-credit at Grameen Bank – a Nobel Peace Prize winning organization that was designed to provide very small loans to those in poverty in an effort to spark entrepreneurism. Many of the people who receive loans from Grameen Bank are women. Some women weave baskets or make other handicrafts to sell, other women use their loans to purchase chickens and livestock and sell the animal products (eggs, etc.). With the money they earn, they repay the loan and meet their basic needs (food, water, shelter). Many women will take out another loan to help build their business, enabling them to make more money to send their children to school or to improve their living conditions by making improvements to their homes.
After years of providing loans to poor women across Bangladesh, Grameen founded many sister organizations (social businesses). We will have the opportunity to learn about both the traditional Grameen model and the sister organizations. Some of the sister organizations we plan to visit are:
- Grameen Veolia Water Ltd. – provides clean, safe drinking water to the poorest communities in Bangladesh through several water treatment and production plans in rural villages. The groundwater in Bangladesh is heavily contaminated with arsenic.
- Grameen Knitwear – an export-oriented knitwear factor. Its facilities include knitting, dyeing, finishing and garments production. Grameen Knitwear owns and operates a popular brand, Grameen Check, which is a 100% cotton and environmentally friendly fabric made by village based traditional weavers. See the picture below for an example of Grameen Check by clicking Read More.
- Grameen Shikkha – or Grameen Education’s mission is to provide financial support (scholarships) to poor students, to promote mass education, to organize facilities for education and training, to promote new technology and innovative ideas and methods for the development of education and the alleviation of illiteracy, and to conduct research in the field of education.
- Grameen Kalyan – provides affordable healthcare services to the rural poor in Bangladesh by operating 30 health clinics in various areas of rural Bangladesh.
- Grameen Shakti – or Grameen Energy was created to promote, develop and popularize renewable energy technology in rural Bangladesh.
- Grameen Danone – is a joint venture between Grameen Bank and Groupe Danone (Dannon Yogurt). Its mission is to provide the children of rural Bangladesh with the key nutrients that are commonly missing from their diet.
- Grameen Eye Care Hospital – opened in 2008 and is structured as a social business enterprise. It provides 50,000 examinations and 10,000 cataract operations annually.
- Grameen Fisheries – is a nonprofit company which aims to develop the inland fisheries of Bangladesh for the alleviation of poverty. With the support of Grameen Fisheries, 2,700 poor fisherman families have been organized and trained. Fisherman provide five hours of labor each week and pursues his or her primary occupation the rest of the time. Group members receive 50% of the produce from the pond and an annual income increase of about $100 USD per member.
Beyond these, there are many more Grameen sister organizations that help to build infrastructure or provide healthcare services to the people of Bangladesh. I’ll write more about each of these when we visit them July 19-26.