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Jun 13

Nobel Laureate 2006, Dr. Muhammad Yunus Joins Dr. William Yager at Microcredit Summit Colombia!

Posted by: Elizabeth Israel

Elizabeth Israel


GreenMicrofinance has organized  four panels for the Microcredit Summit Campaign...
from Halifax, Chile, Bali and now Colombia! 
GreenMicrofinance appreciates the support of USAID, microLINKS, and the Microcredit Summit Campaign in collaborating with us over the past years in promoting 'environmentally sustainable microfinance'.

GreenMicrofinance Director, Dr. William Yager, joined Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate 2006,  on a panel focused on "microfinance and the environment" at the Microfinance Summit in Cartagena Colombia.  Dr. Yager, with the support of USAID, was one of the 1,000 delegates attending the Summit.


 Dr. Yunus chaired the panel, entitled "How MFIs and their Clients can have a Positive Impact on the Environment!"  
Dr. Yager commented on the environmental risks facing microfinance clients.  With a new paradigm shift, he emphasized that paying attention to the environment = enhanced productivity
Dr. Yunus closed the session with the following key points:   

  • Global Warming was created by us, we can solve it just by stopping what we are doing wrong.

  • The Poor are not the cause of Global Warming, they are the victims.

  • Technology is key. 

  • Government can do more harm: Subsidies stifle creativity and market sustainability, taxing ecological solutions.

               City Dump  - Guatemala                                                                   Hotel Waste Bio-gas Plants - India

Nobel Laureate 2006
Microcredit Summit Webcast - Colombia
microLINKS Blog - Colombia

Jun 09

Microcredit Summit Opening Plenary: Ingrid Munro - a connection with a child!

Posted by: Elizabeth Israel

Tagged in: Poverty , Microfinance , Impact , Environment

Elizabeth Israel

During the Opening Plenary at the Microcredit Summit in Colombia, Ingrid Munro, Founder and Managing Trustee of Jamii Bora in Kenya, shared that her institution, founded together with 50 beggars, is currently celebrating its tenth anniversary.   Their mission is to assist their members to get out of poverty and build a better life for themselves and their families. By being a member of Jamii Bora, you get access to a ladder -which you can use to climb out of poverty. While Jamii Bora provides the ladder, the borrowers do the climbing themselves.  She went on to share the inspiring stories of many of Jamii Bora's clients, who having started as beggars now own multiple businesses, are employers, and are helping others climb out of poverty.

One of Jamii Bora's key rules is that they love every member.   It doesn't matter where you come from; what matters is where you are going. They do not accept excuses; the way to hell is paved with excuses.   Jamii Bora doesn't only seek to lift people barely above the poverty line; it seeks to inspire its members with the confidence they need to reach to the sky and beyond.                                                                        

Posted Mon, 06/08/2009 by Lisa Laegreid microLINKS

Elizabeth Israel interviewed Ingrid in Bali in 2008. Dan Lundmark captured on film.  See blog entry My Chat with Ingrid Munro. Since then Elizabeth's and Thomas' new grandchild, Pooja, was adopted by their son and his wife (and 2 children) in Vermont; two years ago she was six years old, homeless, found wandering on the streets of Delhi.

Jun 02

Improved Cookstoves, Cartoon Edition

Posted by: Betsy Teutsch

Betsy Teutsch

Hat tip to Andy Lubershane whose work is featured at WorldChanging - he does comic book style presentation of big solutions to big problems. Here is Andy on Improved Cookstoves:

May 22

Find us in the May Environmental Issue of MicrofinanceFocus Magazine!

Posted by:

Two of our recent pieces -- the CGAP article "Microfinance and the Environmental Bottom Line" .

You can download the entire issue from MicrofinanceFocus' homepage, www.microfinancefocus.com


Many thanks to Vikash Kumar, Managing Editor & Executive Director of MicrofinanceFocus, for taking great interest in GreenMicrofinance and coordinating our participation in this issue. 

May 12

MicrofinanceGatewayTells the World about Environment and Microfinance

Posted by: Betsy Teutsch

Betsy Teutsch


Donors and investors can build capacity for green microfinance by providing necessary technical assistance and by supporting environmentally sustainable microfinance projects. For example, the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) has developed evaluation criteria and tools to help MFI's assess and manage the social and environmental impacts and risks of microenterprises. CIDA has also produced an Environmental Sourcebook for MFIs. IFC, Triodos, Calvert, Shell Foundation, and EBRD are among other donors who are including the environmental bottom line on their agenda.

In this article, we explore some of the eco-microfinance initiatives promoted today, such as:

  • Green microenterprises
  • Renewable energy entrepreneurship
  • Carbon credit aggregation

Green microenterprises

Eco-friendly microenterprises can provide sustainable sources of income to microfinance clients, including the production of organic fertilizers and biomass charcoal briquettes, clean energy cookstove fabrication, and handicrafts made from sustainably sourced materials. Various industry standards, from groups like the Forest Stewardship Council, provide guidelines on “sustainable sourcing.”

MFIs that deal with agricultural clients can seek partners that will help clients adapt to evolving conditions through the adoption of environmentally-friendly farming techniques. Organizations, such as Sustainable Harvest International, help by providing key technical support. Subsidy can also play a positive role as clients shift their approach to a more eco-friendly standard.

Engaging in environmentally sound business practices can:

  • Help microentrepreneurs preserve and protect their long-term income
  • Protect the health of communities
  • Lower overhead for microenterprises
  • Enable MFIs to invest in a growing market that meshes well with the agendas of triple-bottom line investors.

Cooking over a wood fireRenewable energy entrepreneurship

Microfinance clients often use fossil fuels like natural gas and petroleum as sources of energy. These fuel sources contribute to the greenhouse gas problem, the degradation of local ecosystems, and cause health problems. Implementing renewable energy systems, like solar, wind, and biogas can offer great cost savings, as well as health benefits. MFIs offering personal consumption “energy loans” can help microfinance clients leverage these resources for their homes and businesses.

Renewable energy can also be a source of income for a new class of business – renewable energy microenterprises. Social and environmental entrepreneurs from the industrialized world are helping to create this microentrepreneurship opportunity. For example, Barefoot Power is a socially-conscious business that employs microentrepreneurs to distribute solar-powered products and systems in the developing world.

Grameen Shakti is a nonprofit with the mission of eliminating energy poverty with renewable-energy entrepreneurs. They support programs in solar energy, biogas, and improved cookstoves, which include training and capacity building for entrepreneurs who promote the systems, as well as financial products tailored for renewable energy uptake. In the micro-utility model, one entrepreneur will install a solar system and sell power to those in the community who cannot yet afford to invest in their own.

In the fieldCarbon credit aggregation

Carbon credit aggregators, like MicroEnergy Credits and E + Co, work with MFIs that provide renewable energy loans to clients. Each loan can be translated into a small carbon credit. Though these credits are too small to be traded on the multi-million or billion dollar carbon markets created by the Kyoto Protocol, aggregators bundle these credits and then sell them on the voluntary carbon market to net polluters. Carbon credit aggregation offers:

  • Financial rewards for MFIs that provide energy loans, creating an incentive to continue greening products
  • A better standard of living, and more control over energy resources, for clients who switch to renewable sources of energy for their homes or businesses
  • Business opportunities for microentrepreneurs who supply renewable energy services or systems


The conventional path of economic development has tied greater prosperity to increased energy consumption, with its corresponding negative environmental impact. This does not have to be the case. MFIs can contribute, along with their clients, to solving the crises we face today. Microfinance clients continue to be impacted by global climate change and environmental degradation, but we are also seeing that they can be part of the way forward.


Apr 18

"On Thin Ice" ...climate change and glaciers!

Posted by: Elizabeth Israel

Elizabeth Israel

Namaste!   My four children have all graduated from Woodstock School located in the Himalyan mountains in northern India during the time we lived in rural Nepal.  Over a span of 7 years various family members trekked and enjoyed these majestic mountains.

It was with great interest I watched "On Thin Ice", this one-hour PBS special on NOW.  It is an alarming  report on glaciers.  


Seventy-five percent of the world's fresh water is stored in glaciers, but scientists predict climate change will cause some of the world's largest glaciers to completely melt by 2030. What effect will this have on our daily lives?

Environmentalist Conrad Anker, one of the world's leading high altitude climbers, warns, "We can't take climate change and put it on the back burner. If we don't address climate change, we won't be around as humans."

Apr 08

CGAP Report on Microfinance and Climate Change

Posted by: Elizabeth Israel

Elizabeth Israel

Congratulations GGAP on a MUST READ!

...for the April 2 Report on Greening Microfinance: Clients and the Climate of Change

With environmental challenges-from drought to flooding-disproportionately affecting poor people's livelihoods, microfinance institutions have a strong incentive to mitigate the risks of climate change while helping their clients adapt to that change, argues Paul Rippey, the author of the latest report from CGAP on microfinance and climate change.

...to Paul Rippey, on the well-written article,  Microfinance and Climate Change: Threats and Opportunities.   Great work, Paul!

"Within microfinance, the word ‘sustainable' has tended to be used in a very narrow way, mainly referring to institutions that are financially viable," says Rippey. "But just as many MFIs have added social performance to their bottom line, they should also consider how their actions-and those of their clients-can help combat climate change."

Thank you, CGAP, for making mention of GMf in the Report and as an Additional Resource on your Feature page.  

Apr 02

Princeton Students Display a Wide Knowledge Base - Soon to be Shared in our University Forum

Posted by: Betsy Teutsch

Betsy Teutsch


Students at college entered last fall with the Bush administration in place resisting any climate change policy and a flush financial system.  Now just one semester later there is a new president, new policies and green stimuli afoot, and a financial system in tatters.  Fortunately, as one student described, they're in a bubble and somewhat insulated from trauma. 

However, tonight's group of Princeton students is surely not ivory tower elitists.  They are applying their prodigious brain power to some of the world's really big challenges and learning together through the Princeton Microfinance Organization. The span of subject they're studying emphasizes to me just how many disciplines are soon-to-launch University Forum will encompass.  Hearing all the fields represented at today's program was very impressive: financial modeling (Princeton actually has a Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering - which will likely be doing some Re-Engineering), a chemist working on solar energy, an electrical engineering major focusing on design that requires people to be more efficient, a student focusing on environmental justice, a graduate student in Development.  These all link to aspects of GreenMicrofinance.The once exception was the astrophysics major - but she is entitled to have interests outside her major!

Probably the most surprising, and informative for all of us, was a student doing a project on biochar; she elegantly explained this carbon sequestering soil improvement medium to us all!

Stay tuned.  You'll be hearing more interesting things from this group, I am sure.  You can see us up above, not actually IN Africa, but at the Woodrow Wilson School.

 PS - great planning work, TIng-Fung!

Feb 26

World Economic Forum: Green Investing

Posted by: Elizabeth Israel

Elizabeth Israel

Recently the World Economic Forum in Davos released a new study on Green Investing: Towards a Clean Energy InfrastructureIn the study it states that "two billion people worldwide have no access to modern fuels and 1.6 billion have no access to electricity. In addition, hundreds of millions more live in areas with unreliable grids and experience regular outages disrupting light, water pumps and other essential functions".
GreenMicrofinance was listed in the study as one of eight global organizations "working on innovative ways of using microfinance to provide clean energy in developing countries". (p.21)

Jan 30

Donkey-Powered Energy Solutions from the 3rd Annual Microfinance East Event

Posted by: Betsy Teutsch

Betsy Teutsch

Seated at the venerable NYC Harmonie Club, not unlike taking an SAT test, the speakers shared sophisticated analysis, concerns and encouraging words, as well.  It was a nicely diverse crowd.  As an elder, I was happy to see many hoary heads, along with young MF mover-and-shakers.  The gender balance is better than in most industries, with lots of mature women in leadership roles, but older guys are there too.  Diversity and accents are prevalent, reminding us of the global reach of microfinance.

 Many of the presentations were technical and specific, a little harder to blog about than the more anecdotal tidbits.  Clean energy and global warming came up many times - not as many mentions as THE FINANCIAL SITUTATION - but it's on people's minds, and of course it's what GreenMicrofinance does.

 Here is one of the more innovative clean energy solutions we've heard of.  You know the term horsepower?  Naturally it's a measurement that reflects four-legged sources of energy.  Substitute "donkey power" and you have this: The HAPPY - "human and animal powered" vehicles.  The donkeys trudge around the village, producing enough energy to charge a solar panel which in turn charges small appliances, especially cellphones.  By the time the donkey and cart return to your house, they deliver a charged phone, and provide transport, too, one presumes.

People can't afford four bars of cellphone power, nor obviously can they afford a solar charger of their own. But they can cover the cost of a little electricity for their cellphone needs.  So here is a solution which fertilizes the neighborhood and helps people up the green ladder out of energy poverty.

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