A large group of Cornell University alumni had the opportunity to hear Alex Counts speak today about his book, Small Loans, Big Dreams: How Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and Microfinance are Changing the World. Counts is the president and CEO of the Grameen Foundation, a nonprofit, Washington, D.C.–based organization that has grown from modest beginnings in 1997 to become a global network of forty-six microfinance partners in twenty-four countries. Under his leadership, the Grameen Foundation impacts an estimated eighteen million lives in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Arab World. Counts trained to be a catalyst for change under Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the founder and Managing Director of the Grameen Bank and corecipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
“Micro-financing is considered one of the most effective strategies in the fight against global poverty,” Counts explained to the group. “It can be implemented on the massive scale necessary to respond to the urgent needs of the world’s poorest. And now, in Small Loans, Big Changes, author Alex Counts looks at the lives of micro-lending borrowers from the Grameen Foundation in Bangladesh and Chicago.”
All of the borrowers profiled in his book are women of little-to-no means, each struggling to gain financial independence. Counts help readers discover how, in Bangladesh, these women face off against very poor living conditions and the prejudice of men, while in Chicago, they must overcome crime and other hurdles that come with life in the inner city. “My goal was to reveal how Muhammad Yunus and his concept of micro-financing has helped those living in poverty achieve real financial independence,” Counts shared.
What the crowd said:
I really enjoyed Alex’s presentation–it was the primary reason I came. He was very inspiring.
I thought that the speaker was marvelous. The people who also were attracted to this type of event were also those that I was looking to connect with.
I have attended many alumni events. I thought this speaker was one of the best I have heard.
The speaker’s presentation was informative and interesting to me — especially considering I am a recent grad who is interested in microfinance as a future career.
Alex was fabulous! Very interesting, engaging, informative, and inspirational! Many thanks to him and to all who worked to set up this great program.
As I am going back to Cornell as a Masters student in International Agriculture and Rural Development with a two-year Peace Corps option this topic was absolutely important for my thesis. I was happy to meet Alex and learn about his experiences in development. I flew down from New York just for this event!
Alex Counts recounts a great story of his interst in micro-finance and how he returned to Cornell to learn Bengali. Kudos to Cornell for having such an extensive language program.