Submitted by: Grameen Foundation USA
Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility
Posted: Jun 08, 2007 – 05:38 PM EST
LIMASSOL, CYPRUS- June 8, 2007 – Building on their four-year partnership to expand access to microfinance amongst the Arab World's poor, Grameen Foundation and the Abdul Latif Jameel Group (ALJ) today announced the formation of Grameen-Jameel Pan-Arab Microfinance Limited, a new joint venture company that will focus on alleviating poverty in the Arab world through microfinance. Modeled after the social business enterprise concept developed by 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the company will work to maximize social impact and will reinvest all of its profits in the business rather than distribute dividends. The new entity is a for-profit company with a social purpose.
The company, which was incorporated in Cyprus, is the first of its kind to target microfinance in the Arab World and shows how two very different organizations, a Western non-profit organization and a for-profit, privately-held Saudi company, can come together for a common social good – poverty alleviation. The launching of this company represents an important new phase of their collaboration to address poverty and unemployment through microfinance.
"We believe that business principles can be applied to solve massive social problems like poverty, and we hope to see more examples of corporate social responsibility and social investment in the Arab World," says Mohammed Jameel, president of Abdul Latif Jameel Group. "Performance is evaluated in the business world everyday, and this company will be assessed on its ability to meet its 2011 strategic target of adding at least one million new microfinance clients in the Arab World."
Heather Henyon, Grameen Foundation's regional director for the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region, has been appointed as the joint venture’s founding managing director. "Under Heather's dynamic leadership, Grameen Foundation through its Grameen-Abdul Latif Jameel Initiative has made an impact on poverty-focused microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen. Among other things, we have secured $17 million in debt financing for five MFIs through our loan guarantee facility," said Alex Counts, president of Grameen Foundation. "Now our partnership with the Jameel Group and with the Arab microfinance sector is going to a new level of impact and achievement. Particularly with the $50 million in loan guarantees pledge by Mohammad Jameel, this joint venture is poised to impact millions of people and be a model for partnerships between organizations with complementary strengths and common values."
Counts, together with Grameen Foundation board member James Greenberg and COO Salvatore Pappalardo, will represent the foundation on the board of the joint venture. Zaher Al Munajjed, an advisor to Mohammad Jameel, will serve as the company’s chairman. Fady Jameel, the son of Mohammad Jameel, will also serve on the Board, which will be evenly divided between GF and ALJ appointees.
About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation is a global non-profit organization that combines microfinance, technology, and innovation to empower the world's poorest people to escape poverty. It has established a global network of partners in 22 countries that has impacted an estimated 16 million lives in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East. Based in Washington, D.C., Grameen Foundation was founded by Alex Counts, who began his work in microfinance with 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank. Dr. Yunus is a founding and current member of Grameen Foundation’s board of directors. For more information on Grameen Foundation, please visit www.grameenfoundation.org.
About Abdul Latif Jameel Group
The Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) Group, based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is one of the Arab World’s most successful and respected business groups. The ALJ business was founded by the late Sheikh Abdul Latif Jameel in 1945. In 1955, he was granted the sole distributorship for Toyota vehicles in Saudi Arabia which the ALJ Group has maintained ever since. It has an active community services program, which has emphasis on education, training, and development to assist the younger generations to achieve independence and self sustainability. Mohammad Jameel, the son of the founder, is the President of the Group.