Hope and Big Dreams: Meet the Authors of Two Books on Bangladesh Microfinance Pioneers
Since its beginnings in the 1970s, the global microfinance sector has undergone a profound transformation, characterized by rapid expansion and commercialization. The sector serves an estimated 156 million customers and faces numerous challenges in adapting to a digital age while continuing to responsibly meet the needs of its clients.
Two prominent Bangladeshi institutions, BRAC and Grameen Bank, were pioneers of microfinance-driven anti-poverty initiatives. Their groundbreaking efforts played an important role in shaping the sector's understanding of poverty and inspiring global programs that recognized and built upon the capabilities of people in poverty.
In this webinar, we conversed with the authors of two books who took us through the journey of microfinance and the story of these two innovative institutions that contributed to Bangladesh’s development and the spread of microfinance globally.
Alex Counts, the founder of Grameen Foundation, presented his latest work, Small Loans, Big Dreams, 2022 Edition: Grameen Bank and the Microfinance Revolution in Bangladesh, America, and Beyond. Originally published in 1996, this book saw a second edition rushed to market following the surprise Nobel Prize announcement in 2006.
Scott MacMillan, director of learning and innovation at BRAC USA, introduced his book, Hope Over Fate: Fazle Hasan Abed and the Science of Ending Global Poverty. The book provides an insightful account of BRAC, one of the largest nongovernmental organizations globally and, by many assessments, one of the world’s most effective anti-poverty initiatives.
Alex Counts is the author of Small Loans, Big Dreams. In 1997, he established Grameen Foundation with the support of Nobel laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus and became its President and CEO. He did so after having worked in microfinance and poverty reduction for 10 years, mostly spent living in rural Bangladesh. He is currently an independent consultant to nonprofit organizations (including the India Philanthropy Alliance), an adjunct professor at the School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University and a senior adviser and ambassador at large for a)plan coaching.
Scott MacMillan is the director of learning and innovation at BRAC USA, an affiliate organization of BRAC, where he has worked since 2011. A former journalist, he served as the speechwriter of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder of BRAC, prior to Abed’s death in 2019. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and daughter, along with a cat, two dogs and four horses.
Valdete Berisha leads the communications strategy for CGAP’s FinDev Gateway platform. Valdete has nearly 20 years of experience focusing on research and communications in international development, including financial inclusion, microfinance, global trade, and agriculture policy. Before CGAP, Valdete worked at the World Bank, leading communications for the Agrifin initiative. She also spent seven years at the International Food Policy Research Institute, conducting research on global trade negotiations and multilateral trade agreements.