Grameen Jameel

Improved access and innovation – two key factors for the advancement of the microfinance sector in the Arab region

Interview with Fatina Abu Okab, Program Manager, Grameen-Jameel

By Miranda Beshara, Arabic Editor, CGAP’s Microfinance Gateway*

April 2015

Arabic version of the interview

Grameen-Jameel was established as a company in 2003 and incorporated in 2007 as a joint venture between Grameen Foundation and Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives. Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Limited is considered as the first social business in the Middle East and North Africa. As of December 2014, GJ has been operating in 11 countries in the MENA region and Turkey and has partnered with 21 MFIs reaching more than 2.5 million new clients through MFI Partners. In terms of financing, Grameen-Jameel has a total loan portfolio of around 12 million dollars and total financing raised through guarantees valued at around $53 million. The percentage of female clients in our partner portfolio reached 63.1%.

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Entrepreneurship in the Middle East Gets Boost Through Crowdfunded Loans

kiva-articalKiva.org and Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Ltd. Launch “Change is in Your Hands” Campaign to Alleviate Poverty Through Entrepreneurship in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey

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Ten Lessons from a Partnership to Reduce Poverty in the Arab World

Alex Countsby Alex Counts

A little over a year ago, Susan Davis, and former Chairwoman of Grameen Foundation said to me, “In the wake of 9/11, there was a lot of talk about developing partnerships with progressive groups in the Middle East, but few actually took the risk and did anything. Grameen Foundation took a big risk and did jump in. At the time, microfinance was tiny there. Now it is much bigger, and clearly we had something to do with that. So take some credit for your boldness and the results!” (I should mention that around the time we got going in the region, Susan was also bringing Ashoka to the Middle East and made a lot of powerful connections for us along the way.) So how did we even begin talking to the Jameel family and its representatives? Read more →

Contemplating Scarcity and its Implications for Microfinance and Poverty Alleviation

Alex Countsby Alex Counts

The field of behavioral economics – the intersection of psychology and economics – is fairly new.  This is a partial explanation of why its lessons have not yet been applied much to microfinance and anti-poverty programs generally.  But this is clearly changing, and none-too-soon, as microfinance in particular is in need of reinvention and rebranding.

In fact, I am coming to believe that thoughtful applications of behavioral economics can be a central part of defining and realizing the idea of “responsible microfinance” that the Microfinance CEO Working Group and others are championing and also “full financial inclusion” that moves the dial on poverty.

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The Implications of Scarcity Thesis for Microfinance

Alex Countsby Alex Counts

Just as increasing use of a “gender lens” has transformed thinking about and the practice of international development in recent decades, so too can behavioral economics in the near future.  In some cases, this discipline explains and reaffirms current practice.  In other cases, the study of behavioral economics provides an alternative explanation of why some things work and others don’t.  In still other cases, it suggests that current thinking and so-called “best practices” are wrong and counter-productive.  Now and then, it prompts us to consider readopting a practice that has fallen out of favor.  (For an introduction to the thesis put forward in the book Scarcity: Why Having So Little Means So Much, visit Part One of this blog.)

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Ten Years and Ten Lessons

 Alex CountsA Decade of Partnership to Reduce Poverty in the Arab World

By Alex Counts[1]

Ten years ago, Grameen Foundation set out on a journey of partnership with the Abdul Latif Jameel Group and the Jameel family. Our collective objective was to battle poverty and unemployment in the Arab World, and a decade later, I can say that we succeeded in many ways.  The partnership evolved into a joint venture, Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Ltd. (GJ) between Grameen Foundation (USA) and with the Abdul Latif Jameel-Community Initiatives (ALJ-CI) (a philanthropic force in the Arab world) to advance poverty alleviation through microfinance and other innovative approaches.  As we reached this ten year milestone, I wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate what we have accomplished together, and reflect on ten “lessons learned” that can be applied to partnerships in the Arab world, and likely elsewhere.

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Dix Ans et Dix Enseignements

Alex Counts

Par Alex Counts

Une décennie de Partenariat pour la Réduction de la Pauvreté dans le Monde Arabe

Il y a dix ans, Grameen Foundation s’est lancé dans un partenariat avec le Groupe Abdul Latif Jameel et la famille Jameel. Notre objectif commun était de combattre la pauvreté et le chômage dans le monde arabe et une décennie plus tard, je suis ravi de pouvoir confirmer que nous avons réussi sur plusieurs échelles. Le partenariat s’est transformé en entreprise commune avec la création de Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Ltd. (GJ) entre Grameen Foundation (Etats-Unis) et les Initiatives Communautaires Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ-CI) (une force philanthropique dans le monde arabe) afin de promouvoir la réduction de la pauvreté à travers la microfinance et d’autres approches innovatrices. A l’occasion de ce dixième anniversaire, je profite de cette opportunité pour célébrer ce que nous avons accompli ensemble jusqu’à présent et réfléchir à dix « enseignements tirés » de cette expérience qui pourraient être appliquées à des partenariats à travers le monde arabe, et probablement ailleurs.
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Opening Speech – Women’s World Banking Conference 2013 in Amman, Jordan

By Dr. Khaled Al-Gazawi, General Manager, Grameen-Jameel

Amman, Jordan, on 19 November 2013

Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored and delighted to be speaking at this important event to an important group of microfinance experts and practitioners. Grameen-Jameel would like to thank Mary Ellen Iskenderian and the team from Women World Banking for approaching us to be one of the sponsors of this important event. I am looking forward to hearing about many of your success stories and share with you the successes of Grameen-Jameel over the past decade.

It happens that this event coincides with our celebrations of Grameen-Jameel’s 10th anniversary. Yes, ten exciting years have passed since Mohammad Jameel challenged the founding team to bring life to his vision of tackling poverty through job creation in the Middle East and reaching one million borrowers through microfinance. These have been ten years of focused commitment to poverty alleviation, ten years of cooperation, hard work, and achievements with our Microfinance Partners across the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey. Finally ten years of deep friendship and partnership between the Jameel Family, various philanthropic vehicles such as ALJ-Community Initiatives, and the Grameen Foundation.

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Alex Counts
“The growth and development of the microfinance sector in the region have been possible thanks to the resourcefulness of the social entrepreneurs who lead Arab and Turkish microfinance institutions and the clients who borrow from them. Crowdfunding through Kiva platform will bring in the region additional resources to bring opportunity to even more borrowers”

Fady Jameel
“The role of youth in the region needs to be fostered to allow them to play a significant role in the positive changes that are happening across the Middle East and in the region. All of us, individually, could make a difference by supporting those who do not have access to capital and who face staggering unemployment.”

Zaher Al Munajjed
“For more than a decade, Grameen-Jameel mission has been of tackling poverty and job creation in the Middle East. This partnership with Kiva is a new milestone in our journey to play a vital role in engaging individuals to support with generosity all the underprivileged and unemployed individuals in our region regardless of where they reside.”