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J.P. Morgan hosts Microcredit Summit Campaign with Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus

Feb 17, 2009

J.P. Morgan recently hosted a Microcredit Summit Campaign event. With an audience of 400 invited guests and employees, Sam Daley-Harris, director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, announced that microfinance had reached its goal of serving 106 million of the poorest in the world, of which nearly 89 million were women.

Having reached its 2007 goal, the Campaign now aims to ensure that 175 million of the world’s poorest families are receiving credit for self-employment and other financial and business services by the end of 2015. It also plans to ensure that 100 million families rise above the US$1 per day threshold, adjusted for purchasing power parity, between 1990 and 2015.

As part of the program, Daley-Harris conducted an anecdote-laced conversation with 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank, one of the world’s leading microfinance organizations, serving 7.6 million borrowers, 97% of whom are women.

Opening the event, Bill Winters, Investment Bank co-CEO, said it was J.P. Morgan’s privilege to host the meeting, noting:“At J.P. Morgan, we recognize that we share in the obligation to help alleviate poverty by extending our expertise and capital.”

To underscore that commitment, Winters mentioned that J.P. Morgan had launched its own Social Sector Finance unit with the aim of furthering microfinance and social enterprises.“The group is founded on the premise that it is possible to achieve a ‘double bottom line’ of both social benefits and positive financial returns,” Winters explained. Additionally, he told the gathering that J.P. Morgan is the inaugural sponsor of Grameen Foundation's Bankers without Borders® which permits employees to volunteer to lend their skills to Grameen and its partners.

In what was billed as a conversation, Yunus told Daley-Harris that the current global financial crisis could open the door to revamping how the economy serves the poor.  “The point I try to emphasize,” Yunus said, “is that no matter how big the crisis, we have to keep trying to come out of it by making the world a better place.”

When people are unhappy with how the system is working, he noted, they try to rebuild it.“There should be a new normalcy, an inclusive system. We should be paying a lot of attention to how we redesign the system,” he said.

Yunus pointed out that the world’s poor, which accounts for half its population, did not create the crisis, but they are nevertheless suffering from it when they lose their jobs, lose their incomes and lose their ability to obtain food for their families.“They are not the creators of the crisis, but the victims of it,” Yunus said, defining the importance of microfinance.

The Grameen Bank has 2,600 branches in Bangladesh, each taking in more in deposits than it lends out, creating a self-sustaining cushion.

Daley-Harris and Prof. Yunus were joined on the panel by Ingrid Munro, founder of a Kenyan microfinance organization, Jamii Bora, who tells her members that “not even the sky is the limit.”

Click on the links below to view webcasts from the Microcredit Summit Campaign:

Announcement of the Campaign's goals: Sam Daley-Harris

Not even the sky is the limit: Ingrid Munro

Impact of economic crisis on poor people: Muhammad Yunus

Housing loans decrease divorce rates: Muhammad Yunus