Week 11: Grameen Foundation, KIVA, and Globalization

The Grameen Foundation works with the world’s developing countries on improving the everyday lives of the poor. Their strategy is using modern tactics with mobile technology to find economic cures and getting information out to the poor, focusing on agriculture, health, and livelihoods. Two countries that the Grameen Foundation have worked with are Kenya and Uganda.

They have been working with Kenya by using mobile tools to help Kenyan people gain access to financial services and information about agriculture. One of the tools they use is called the e-Warehouse. The e-Warehouse was built because of the distance smallholder farmers are from markets and productive value chains which makes financial services difficult to access for the farmers. Because of this, the farmers can’t wait for surplus supply and in turn the lowest prices. The Grameen Foundation is working with Farm Concern International and USAID to build the modern, mobile-based system of e-Warehouse that will help farmers store and manage their crops the right away, gain access to get advances for their stored crops, and connect with markets more easily when prices are low. Another way Grameen is helping Kenya is their work with Musoni Kenya. Musoni Kenya is a microfinance institution that gives access to mobile phone-based banking services, even in rural areas.

The Grameen Foundation began their work with Uganda in 2002 with a system called Village Phone, which has become the core for multiple mobile-based initiatives, including the Community Knowledge Worker initiative, the AppLab Incubator, and the Mobile Financial Services Accelerator. The CKW initiative was launched in 2009 and gives farmers in rural communities access to peer advisors through mobile technology and actual human networks. It helps farmers get more accurate and quicker information about their businesses, and in the process protect their farms and get better prices. The AppLab Incubator is a lab that experiments with the upcoming innovative products and services that will specifically help the poor, and the lab also works with private sector partners to better understand the poor’s financial situations. AppLab has worked with groups including MTN Uganda, Barclays Bank, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to innovate in Uganda.

KIVA does its work by partnering with Field Partners around the world, a large network of microfinance organizations.The Field Partners screen borrowers and cater to loans. KIVA has been active in Africa through these Field Partners, some of whom specifically cater to SSA countries. An example of one of these Partners would be VisionFund Kenya, an organization that has been approved to post KIVA loans from. VisionFund has gained many social performance badges: Anti-Poverty Focus, Family and Community Empowerment, Entrepreneurial Support, Facilitation of Savings, and Innovation. In its 70 months on KIVA, VisionFund has 21,295 borrowers and remains an active fundraiser today, who’s mission is to improve the lives of children in poverty and empower women and families by giving small loans and access to financial services.

Dambisa Moyo, author of Dead Aid.

In Dead Aid, Moyo discusses three stages in her proposal for development:
1. Economic plan which reduces a country’s reliance on aid
2. Choose a finance alternative
3. Strengthening of institutions —> accountability and transparency

In The End of Poverty, Sachs has a different plan based on the reformation of globalization, called, “Enlightened Globalization.” This plan includes a globalization of democracies, science and technology, multilateralism, and a global economic system that will meet human needs. The plan includes 9 steps:
1. Commitment to ending poverty
2. Adopt a plan of action
3. Raise the voice of the poor
4. Redeem the role of the United States in the world
5. Rescue the IMF and World Bank
6. Strengthen the United Nations
7. Harness global service
8. Promote sustainable development
9. Make a personal commitment

Poverty abroad can hurt Western economies, including our own, with the effects of war, disease, poverty, and economic and political corruption on developing countries. Corruption such as terrorism can affect us in situations like the terrorist group ISIS. Not only has ISIS influenced members of our country to join it, but it has executed members of our country and made further threats. It has gotten to the point that we need to take these threats very seriously.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister of Nigeria, discusses if aid versus trade is a better route.

Andrew Mwenda, journalist, talks about the opportunities for creating wealth and happiness in Africa that lie underneath the media’s stories of poverty.


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