The World Could Only Be Better!


I am very impressed with what you have done especially for the poor people; and we can only learn from your legendary work. What makes me proud and happy is that you took a stand against all odds to make it possible for the impoverished to have a golden opportunity to change their lives for the better. It is unfortunate that the world has become a place where greedy, dishonest and power hungry peole thrive at the expense of the poor. However, not all people are like that, and you're the testimony to that. God has created a human being to fulfill a particular purpose on earth, but how many of us know our life purpose? I think — no, let me correct this, I don't think, but know that you have found your life purpose and you have executed it with distinction and the highest honor; and this deserves an applause!!! You really stand out.

For me to stumble on your website and book material is not a mistake, and I know it happened for a reason. Since reading your material and the story behind Grameen Bank over and over again, I am overwhelmed with a feeling and a conviction to follow on your path by also contributing to the poor by giving them love, hope and creating opportunities for them to prosper against poverty. My country, South Africa is a beautiful country, but like any other country in the world, it is also faced with a challenge to eradicate poverty. This is not an easy task, and people, especially those who have resources talk about poverty, but fail to act on it. This world could only be better if we give more…This is what I want and am going to do from this moment as part of my life purpose.

I, therefore, request your assistance to establish a bank for the poor in South Africa; I have already started with the ground work and just completed a business plan, and next I am going to meet with the Governor of the South African Reserve Bank to sell the idea. However, with your expertise and support, I know I will make it a success..

Edwin Mokgwatsana
21 Besembos Avenue
Kempton Park Ext 5
1619 Johannesburg,
South Africa
December 25, 2005


No Limits to Growth


What a year 2005 has been for Women for Women International! I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunities that were presented to us - from our appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show in January, to our first annual Women of the World Awards Gala in November. Having such opportunities may be a blessing, but we could never have turned them into a successful program for the 29,000 women we served this year, if it wasn't for the devotion of our staff in the 10 countries we work in and you — our dedicated supporters who make our work possible.

At Women for Women International, we have a history of high growth rates and expansion each year. Having said that, we have never witnessed such growth in the number of women we are serving in our entire history. And, we've expanded the depth and types of programs we offer. After graduating from our business development program in Nigeria, 2,200 women formed 113 cooperatives, earning new income for their families and helping to bring economic sustainability to their communities. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, women who graduated from our advanced leadership training programs are changing their communities by running for local offices, organizing women's boards and participating in town meetings. And in Afghanistan, our growing microcredit lending program has provided increased economic freedom to 3,000 women, distributing $500,000 in loans.

As Michelangelo said, "The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark." Our plans for 2006 embody his words. We've outlined an ambitious plan to launch our operations in Sudan and serve 1,500 women. We're continuing to deepen our programs, and are developing a comprehensive package of employment opportunities for women, including developing local markets and increasing international sales for products; establishing local enterprises, such as a carpentry workshop and production facility in Kosovo; and expanding the types of loans offered through our microcredit programs. By the end of 2006, we hope to serve 52,000 women — nearly as many women as the 55,000 as we've served to date.

Our dreams for next year are big, and I look forward to working with all our supporters to make 2006 another successful year. Please accept my best wishes for a happy and safe holiday season. May we get closer to peace and justice for women and for the world next year.

Zainab Salbi
President and CEO
Women for Women International
Washington, DC
December 22, 2005


Plans for Nepal


I am extremely pleased to write this letter to you requesting for your advice and guidance to replicate Grameen in Nepal.

For the last couple of years, I had been thinking of returning home and serve the rural communities, who have been displaced and affected by the Maoist conflict in Nepal. I was born in Bhojpur district, a mountainous region in eastern Nepal, which is one of the badly affected by the conflict.

I read Professor Muhammad' famous book "Banker to the Poor" twice. Though I had been reading about him for more than two decades, this book has changed my thinking and perception of duties and responsibilities towards the poor and hungry people in Nepal. Historically, Nepalese people are brave, proud and sincere. Unfortunately, hardly any economic opportunities have been given to the people in the mountains and the poor. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Nepalese have moved to different parts of India, including Bombay. About half a million people have moved to third world countries, such as the Middle East, Malaysia and other Asian and European countries and USA.

In order to give the poor Nepalese a hope and opportunity for a better life tomorrow, I have decided to go back to Nepal with a determination to be involved in microcredit. I will begin microcredit in those areas which have been affected by the Maoist conflict.

I would like to request for your advice and guidance whether the Grameen Bank can be replicated in Nepal. My interest is mainly to have your support in training and some funds. I am in the process of preparing a proposal for the registration of a microcredit fund, which is granted by the Nepal Rastra Bank. They told me the Government of Nepal gives high priority to the microcredit programme, and it might take around 6 months to complete the registration formalities. Some of my friends, including two microcredit experts, have expressed their interest to join in this effort.

Bhim Udas
World Food Programme
Yangon, Myanmar
[email protected]
January 16, 2006


GT Receives Grant for Project DIGNITY


Citigroup Foundation, through United Way International, has approved US$ 250,000 to support Project Dignity, a special Grameen Trust project that will replicate Grameen Bank's Struggling Members Program. GB's innovative program has provided financial services to nearly 70,000 beggars all over Bangladesh, proving that even the poorest of the poor can benefit from microcredit. The grant will support the project over a period of three years, to reach financial services to 2,500 beggars through GT's partner network in Bangladesh.

GT and Citigroup hope eventually to take this experience to other countries in the region and beyond.

Grameen Trust and Citigroup Foundation have been collaborating in the field of poverty reduction for almost one decade. With financial support from Citigroup, GT has supported 13 microcredit programs in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and 11 in China. These partner organizations have collectively provided microcredit to more than 1.16 million families in those countries. Project Dignity will be GT and Citigroup's first collaboration in Bangladesh.

Grameen Trust has already approved support to six partners in Bangladesh under Project Dignity, and completed a trainers' training program at Grameen Trust for these organizations. The partners are expected to complete staff training by the end of April and begin providing financial services to the beggars as early as May 2006.

By Lamiya Morshed


Supporting Entrepreneurship in Colombia


My name is Natasha Gartner and I am the Director of a Colombian NGO named Colombianos Apoyando Colombianos.

Two years ago we started the microfinance program, in a small region of Colombia, South America, aimed to help poor people with loans for entrepreneurship. At present we have 2,089 clients, 70% are women. A number of these women are living in municipalities affected by the armed conflict that that has adversely affected the income generating activities of the poorest. In the short period of time in managing the fund we've had proof of the program's impact in helping people overcome economic hardships.

Now, we are in the stage of where we need assistance to expand our fund. If you consider that you can provide me with information on how to proceed, I will be more than willing to send you detailed information about our organization and the microfinance program.

Natasha Gartner
Director CAC
Calle 6 No. 10-29 Ibague, Tolima,
Colombia, S.A.
[email protected]
February 18, 2006

 Editor : Muhammad
Executive Editor : Khalid Shams 
Editorial Assistance :
Lamiya Morshed 
Editorial Advisory Board: Argentina : Pablo Broder, Buenos Aires     Australia : Shan Ali, Sydney     Chile : Benardo Javalquinto, Santiago     Colombia : Mauricio Fernandez, Bogota     France : Maria Nowak, Paris     Germany : Nancy Wimmer, Munich     Malaysia : David S. Gibbons, Kuala Lumpur     Philippines : Dr. Cecilia D. Del Castillo, Bacolod City     USA : Alexander Counts, Washington DC
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