We met briefly when you came to speak at Southern Methodist University on February 7, 1997. I worked with Vyki Bishop to host the evening and to contribute to the launching of the Grameen Foundation USA. Little did I know, something else was about to be launched. Since that day, my mission in life has been to research, develop and implement a micro-lending program to serve the low-income families of the Dallas community.
My family commitments preclude travel to Bangladesh. However, we were able to access a great deal of information on the subject. In January, we began working with future entrepreneurs. The results of the meeting have been typical of US programs in that one of six will actually start a business.
The lessons of the past year have been phenomenal. There are even many consistencies with my findings in working amongst the homeless population. Basically, people everywhere are great! Government and institutions cannot mandate a person to become employed. We can only provide opportunities for people to discover and develop their own spiritual, physical and economic vitality. We cannot mandate vitality.
It is with this philosophy that we are developing our program. However, another lesson learned is by education and working with institutions, one can achieve far greater results, in far less time. This, is the thinking behind community partnerships. To date we have successfully negotiated five community partnerships including Central Dallas Ministries, the City of Dallas, the Greater Dallas Community of Churches, Swiss Avenue Bank and the local chapter of Operation Weed & Seed. Of course, micro-entrepreneurs are the most important partnerships of all! We are working to bring 40 more people into the program by the year's end and are establishing a five year plan of operation.
Currently, funding is not as simple as I would like. In fact, we are submitting our first grant proposal on May 18th, to apply for funding for three years from the US. Department of Health and Human services. We are putting together an international advisory council to display the commitment we have made to develop the best program possible in Dallas.
Many thanks for sharing the inspiring stories of the women from Bangladesh !
7317 Foxworth Drive
Dallas, Texas, USA 75248
Phone & Fax (972) 980-4965
May 16, 1998