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WASHINGTON, DC -- 11/12/08 -- With the shockwaves of the financial crisis reverberating across the globe, there is growing concern about its impact on the world's poor. Grameen Foundation is hosting a discussion of this issue among microfinance and international development leaders at its annual Knowledge Sharing Roundtable .
The roundtable precedes the foundation's annual Microfinance Awards event where it will honor a microfinance pioneer and two microfinance institutions that play pivotal roles in helping poor women access financial services to support their self-help efforts.
"This is a challenging time, particularly for the poorest among us, but we are hearing remarkable stories of resilience and resourcefulness among microfinance clients," said Alex Counts, president of Grameen Foundation.
"This year's honorees, Nurjahan Begum, MBK Ventura, and Al Tadamun, are great examples of the skillful leadership that is critical in helping microfinance institutions and their clients navigate the challenging economic times ahead." Past global financial crises have had minimal impact on the microfinance sector as it was not strongly connected to the formal financial sector. Today, more microfinance institutions are accessing commercial financing, which increases the potential impact of global market shifts on their operations.
At the awards luncheon, Nurjahan Begum, one of Dr. Muhammad Yunus' earliest associates and a founding staff member of Grameen Bank, will receive the Susan M. Davis Lifetime Achievement Award for her efforts to organize women in Bangladesh's poorest villages and for leading the fight for the rights of disadvantaged women for more than 30 years. Named for Grameen Foundation's third chair of its board of directors, this award was inaugurated in 2007.
Mitra Bisnis Keluarga (MBK) Ventura of Indonesia will receive the Excellence in Microfinance Award for its leadership in ensuring that Indonesia's poorest citizens receive financial services. Based on the island of Java, it is the only large institution focusing on the poorest 25 percent of Indonesians and serves almost 90,000 female clients.
Al Tadamun of Egypt will receive the Grameen Foundation and Grameen-Jameel Pan-Arab Pioneer in Microfinance Award in recognition of its innovative and aggressive program to provide financial services to Cairo's poorest women. Its creative, client-focused solutions have given more than 41,000 women and their families greater financial opportunity and security.
This year's Pioneer Award is being given jointly with Grameen-Jameel Pan-Arab Microfinance, Ltd., which directs Grameen Foundation's work in the Middle East and North Africa.