Born in Venezuela from the Internet

I am a North American with a Master�s degree in Social Work and a recipient of the scholarship. The President of Rotary Club Maracaibo, Dr. james Sylvester, knew of my background and asked me to help him investigate his project for the year. He offered me a job surfing the Internet looking for a project for the Rotary (paid to surf the Internet! It was great!) I spent several months on the Internet looking at anti-violence, anti-drug, anti-poverty, anti-etc. programs and suddenly came across Grameen. This was the first program that seemed pro to me, fighting for something instead of against it. We all fell in love. We were amazed by the wealth of information that can be gleaned off the Internet about microfinance. We spent another few months gathering all the information off the Internet, investigating all the organizations involved (ACCION, FINCA, USAID, UN, etc.), learning about the basic issues, making contacts, etc. Grameen fits best with our beliefs and the target population we want to reach, and we decided that we would be very proud to try to affiliate ourselves with Grameen.

When we presented this to the board and club members of Rotary, they went wild. Our Rotary club is a very powerful group here in the city, and I think an especially strong club in general. We are aware that Grameen replications require much labor and political/social support, and believe we are the best organization locally.

Last week, we held a name contest in which Rotarians submitted their name ideas. (The prize was the belt and hat made of Grameen Check we got from our materials packet). I would have liked a meaningful Spanish name myself (my idea was the Virtuous Circle Foundation, the opposite of vicious circle), but the overwhelming vote was for Grameen Venezuela. Within the week we will become a legal entity in Venezuela, ready to fundraise and send our Executive Director to Bangladesh. We also have been in contact with ProMujer and Dr. lynne Patterson in Bolivia. They strongly suggested that we send people to Bolivia to see their work. Hopefully, we can raise the money to send a small delegation instead of just one person to see exactly how they adapted Grameen to Latin America.

We also have identified a variety of local funding sources and have, through the Rotary, high level contacts in them. The lottery here is well known for giving money and has basically promised us funding when the proposal is completed. There are several other foundations. Our goal would be to reach 5,000 clients in 5 years, so we are also hoping for the support of the Grameen Trust.

Lara Osborne
Pre-Project Coordinator
Grameen Venezuela
Apartado 10087
Policlinica San Luis, 2 do Piso
Av.8 (Santa Rita), #84-126
Maracaibo, Venezuela
Tel. 011 58 61 985879
Fax: 011 58 61 980363
E-mail: August 7, 1997