Grameen Foundation Expands Volunteer Program to U.S. Microenterprise Organizations

Washington (PRESS RELEASE – May 5, 2011) – Grameen Foundation’s Bankers without Borders initiative and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) announced a new collaboration to support microfinance and microenterprise development organizations in the United States.  This alliance will enable more than 400 organizations to benefit from the skills and experience of the more than 6,200 highly-skilled active and retired business professionals in Bankers without Borders’ global volunteer reserve corps.

Through on-site technical assistance, training and mentoring, and remote consulting projects, Bankers without Borders’ volunteers help organizations increase their scale, sustainability, and impact. This model provides a cost-effective way for Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs) to identify organizational needs, define and manage volunteer projects, and ultimately expand their services to reach low-income and underserved entrepreneurs.

Bankers without Borders will deploy its pro bono consultants across the United States exclusively through AEO.

“This collaboration will help strengthen the capacity of those nonprofits focused on unlocking the potential of low-income entrepreneurs here in the United States,” stated Alex Counts, President and CEO of Grameen Foundation.  “Our Bankers without Borders’ volunteers are some of the best and brightest minds in the private sector.  For those volunteers who are U.S. residents, this partnership presents them with the opportunity to help make a difference here at home where high levels of unemployment has prompted many to try their hand at self-empowerment through entrepreneurship.”

Bankers without Borders is one of the first initiatives to strategically use skill-based volunteerism. Since its launch more than two years ago, it has already managed more than 250 pro-bono projects and built a volunteer corps of more than 6,200 from diverse fields, such as investment banking, risk management, information technology and marketing. Collectively, more than 500 volunteers have contributed more than 50,000 hours of donated service worth an estimated U.S. $4 million. J.P. Morgan is the initiative’s inaugural sponsor.

Connie Evans, the President and CEO of AEO, remarked, “We are excited about this relationship with Grameen Foundation. Through this partnership we will be able to deploy a skilled volunteer base to support our network of non-profit member organizations around the country that provide capital and services to underserved Main Street micro businesses.”

About Grameen Foundation

Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit organization, helps the world’s poorest people lift themselves out of poverty by providing access to financing and management strategies to the local organizations that serve them.  It also develops mobile phone-based solutions that address “information poverty” among the poor by providing tools, information and services in the fields of health, agriculture, financial services and livelihood creation.  Founded in 1997, Grameen Foundation has offices in Washington, DC; Seattle, WA; Colombia; Ghana; Hong Kong; the Philippines; and Uganda. Microfinance pioneer Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, is a founding member of its Board of Directors, and now serves as director emeritus.

About Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)

AEO creates opportunities for underserved business owners and aspiring business owners across the U.S. through advocacy and services. Its network is comprised of nearly 400 non-profit member organizations around the country that provide capital and services to Main Street micro and small businesses. In the two decades since AEO was founded, our focus on underserved entrepreneurs has not wavered. Long before microenterprise captured the imagination of the general public, AEO was working with its members to improve the policy environment and channel resources to meet the needs of entrepreneurs left out of the mainstream.

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