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Gates Foundation Awards $1.5 Million to Grameen Foundation

Unrestricted, three-year grant will support Grameen Foundation's strategic initiatives

August 29, 2006

Grameen Foundation, a leading global microfinance organization, today announced it has received a $1.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support its work worldwide. The three-year grant will support Grameen Foundation’s strategic plan to reach five million additional new families, ensure that 50 percent of them permanently escape poverty within five years of becoming a microfinance client, and champion innovations that transform the microfinance industry. The unrestricted grant is Grameen Foundation’s third largest grant in support of this five-year plan launched in 2004.

“The Gates Foundation is proud to partner with Grameen Foundation,” said Sylvia Mathews, president of the Global Development Program at the Gates Foundation. “Time and again, Grameen has proven that they are an effective leader in generating awareness around the importance of financial services for the poor and identifying innovative solutions to help more families move permanently out of poverty. We are pleased to support their strategic plan with this grant.”

”For microfinance to reach its full potential to contribute to reaching the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015, leading practitioners will need to accelerate their growth in outreach and improve their product offerings. In addition, research and development related to innovations that benefit the entire sector will need to be sped up,” said Alex Counts, president and CEO of Grameen Foundation. “This grant from the Gates Foundation represents a significant infusion of capital that will empower our strategic plan and the grassroots partners and poor women who are its main beneficiaries.”

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 52 partners in 22 countries that has impacted an estimated 11 million lives in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East.

The Foundation was created in 1997, inspired by the work of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. Grameen Bank was started in 1976 by an economics professor, Dr. Muhammad Yunus, who was convinced that women could break through poverty by taking tiny loans to start or expand tiny businesses. Today, Grameen Bank serves 6.1 million borrowers. As strategic global partners, Grameen Foundation and Grameen Bank share a common vision, knowledge and success models to accelerate the microfinance industry's impact on the world's poorest people. Dr. Yunus, the founder and director of Grameen Bank, is a founding and current board member of the Grameen Foundation. For more information, please visit www.grameenfoundation.org.

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to reduce inequities and improve lives around the world. In developing countries, it focuses on improving health, reducing extreme poverty, and increasing access to technology in public libraries. In the United States, the foundation seeks to ensure that all people have access to a great education and to technology in public libraries. In its local region, it focuses on improving the lives of low-income families. Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by CEO Patty Stonesifer and Co-chairs William H. Gates Sr., Bill Gates, and Melinda French Gates. More information is available at www.gatesfoundation.org.

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- Grameen Foundation - Grameen Foundation uses microfinance and innovative technology to fight global poverty and bring opportunities to the world's poorest people. With tiny loans and financial services, we help the poor, mostly women, start businesses and escape poverty. Our global network of microfinance partners has already reached over 3.6 million families in 22 countries.

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