New Enterprise Targeting Arab Microfinance

Jun 2007
Paris, France, June, 08 2007 - Grameen Foundation & Abdul Latif Jameel Group today announced the launch of the first social business enterprise targeting microfinance in the arab world.

Building on their four-year partnership to expand access to microfinance amongst the Arab World’s poor, Grameen Foundation & Abdul Latif Jameel Group (ALJ) have formed 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, 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.

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.


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