Combating Rural Poverty Through ‘Last Mile’ Solutions
Alex Counts founded Grameen Foundation and became its President and CEO in 1997, after having worked in microfinance and poverty reduction for 10 years. A Cornell University graduate, Counts’ commitment to poverty eradication deepened as a Fulbright scholar in Bangladesh, where he witnessed innovative poverty solutions being developed by Grameen Bank. He trained under Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Since its modest beginnings, sparked by a $6,000 seed grant provided by Prof. Yunus (who was a founding board member and continues as director emeritus), Grameen Foundation has grown to a leading international humanitarian organization with an annual budget of approximately $25 million.
Counts has propelled Grameen Foundation’s philosophy through his writings, including Small Loans, Big Dreams: How Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and Microfinance Are Changing the World. Counts has also been published in The Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, The Miami Herald, The Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere. In 2007 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Horace Mann School.
Counts is a board member, and the immediate past Chair, of Fonkoze USA and co-chairs the Fonkoze Family Coordinating Committee—two governance bodies related to the largest microfinance institution in Haiti. He is also immediate past Chair of Project Enterprise, a New York City microlender, and board member emeritus. He sits on the Advisory Council of the Center for Financial Inclusion, and the Truelift Steering Committee, and serves as Co-Chair of the Microfinance CEO Working Group.
Before leading Grameen Foundation, Counts served as the legislative director of RESULTS and as a regional project manager for CARE-Bangladesh. He speaks Bengali and lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, Emily, and their cat, Seymour.
RECORDED: Friday, May 16, 2014
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