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The “Grameen Declaration” was initially delivered by Larry Reed, director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, at the 2013 Microcredit Summit: Partnerships against Poverty held from October 9-11 in Manila, Philippines, and adopted by the 2013 Summit delegates. We wish now to publicize this declaration more widely and promote its adoption by the rest of microfinance stakeholders. Please join us in becoming signatories to the “Declaration of Support for the Independence of Grameen Bank.”
Professor Muhammad Yunus launched the modern microfinance movement, starting with just $27 out of his own pocket that he lent to 42 poor weavers and merchants in Bangladesh. He and the Grameen Bank, which grew from this act of kindness, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 in recognition their revolutionary “efforts to create economic and social development from below.”
Today, Grameen Bank has grown to nearly 8.4 million members—nearly 97 percent of whom are women—and has lent over $12.5 billion, allowing millions of women and their families the opportunity to lift themselves out of severe poverty. Ownership and leadership of this great institution lies in the hands of its women borrowers as 97 percent of its shareholders and 9 of 13 members of the board of directors are women borrowers. Its groundbreaking model has now been replicated in almost all countries around the world and has influenced nearly every aspect of the microfinance industry on its way to becoming a highly regarded institution in its nearly 40 years of operation.
Since 2010, the Government of Bangladesh has threatened to take control of the bank. This move would undermine Grameen Bank’s long success as the banker to the poor by wresting control of the board of directors from the women owner-borrowers, disenfranchising the millions of women who own a majority of the shares, and dramatically weakening the independence of Bangladeshi civil society as well as microfinance institutions around the world.
The Microcredit Summit Campaign and other allies of Grameen Bank therefore embrace the following “Declaration of Support for the Independence of Grameen Bank”:
As fellow poverty fighters, we voice our support for the continued independence of Grameen Bank and continued enfranchisement of the women who are the bank’s clients and owners. It is imperative that the Grameen Bank Ordinance not be changed any further and that recent amendments be rescinded. This includes ensuring that the borrowers retain control of the bank and that the existing election process of the Board of Directors continues. We will continue to track this issue closely and remain vigilant in our support of Grameen Bank’s independence.
As partners of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, we are working together to guarantee that microfinance remains a tool that can be used by people in poverty to improve their lives and provide a pathway out of poverty. The takeover of an institution so admired as Grameen Bank is threat to all of us. The independence and integrity of microfinance and all of our institutions must be protected. Thus, it is our duty to speak out in solidarity with the women borrowers of Grameen Bank who, through their hard work, investments, and ownership of this bank, have empowered themselves and transformed the lives of their families. This threat to Grameen Bank is a threat to the progress of the microfinance sector not only in Bangladesh, but around the world.
More than 850 delegates, representing 145 institutions and 71 countries from every continent save Antarctica, were present for the reading of the “Declaration in Support of the Independence of Grameen Bank” at the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit. The Grameen Declaration was met with acclaim from delegates in a resounding display of support for adoption of the statement by the 2013 Summit.
Now, allies and friends of Grameen Bank and its model for using microfinance as a powerful tool to help bring about the end of poverty are solidifying their support by becoming signatories to this declaration.
The Microfinance CEO Working Group is comprised of the following organizations:
We invite you to endorse the Grameen Declaration as well; use the Comments below to state your support for the women of Grameen Bank.