NEW YORK, Oct. 13, 2006—The big news in finance and philanthropy is that Muhammad Yunus, Ph.D., founder of the Bangladesh-based Grameen Bank, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the bank’s work in fighting poverty in the developing world. The big news at Fordham is that Jeff Toohig, FCLC ’99, is a program officer in social performance management for the Grameen Foundation, a Washington, D.C., offshoot of Grameen Bank.
Yunus started Grameen Bank in 1976 with $27. The bank’s mission is to make “microloans” (typically $50 to $100) to the world’s poorest people. Grameen Foundation builds on that heritage by working to accelerate the impact of microfinance in the developing world, in part through its poverty assessment tool, “The Progress out of Poverty Index,” developed by Toohig’s team.
Toohig, who graduated from Fordham with a dual bachelor of arts degree in comparative literature and history, moved into development finance in January of 2006, after five years in corporate finance with Banc of America Securities in New York. Between New York and Washington, D.C., he worked with Pro Mujer Bolivia (PMB) in La Paz, where he helped to shift the organization’s focus from donors to socially responsible investors. The time he spent analyzing the social return on investment possible with the Grameen-style system in use by PMB was a natural fit with the work of Grameen Foundation’s social performance management team.
“More than one billion people are condemned to live on less than $1 per day,” according to Alex Counts, president of the Grameen Foundation. “Such a crisis demands tangible, scalable solutions, put into practice on a wide scale…. Microfinance is one of the most powerful solutions to poverty in existence today, and Dr. Yunus is the leader most responsible for developing and implementing it in Bangladesh and globally.”