Alex Counts is President and CEO of Grameen Foundation, and the author of “Small Loans, Big Dreams: How Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and Microfinance are Changing the World” (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). Below is Part Two of this journey to assess the state of microfinance with Grameen Foundation partners worldwide.
Today’s interview on CSPAN’s “Washington Journal” program was personally enjoyable, and it was also great exposure for Grameen Foundation and our self-help strategy for combating world poverty. I always chuckle when people put makeup on me in advance of appearing on television. This time, Steve Scully (the host) touched up my makeup about 15 seconds before we were on the air – apparently his staff had missed something when powdering me up minutes earlier!
Anyway, I had been prepared to address some controversies swirling around microfinance, and when the interview began with a basic, “softball” question I was momentarily flustered, but soon regained my footing. Sometimes during these types of TV and radio sessions, I start off strong but lose a bit of focus as the interview and call-ins progress. I find them a bit draining. Today it felt like the opposite – my energy grew over the course of thirty minutes that seemed to fly by.
I thought the questions from the viewers were thoughtful and passionate, with some reflecting the economic anxiety still prevalent throughout the country. Most calls seemed to come from the Midwest, where my father grew up (on a farm in Kansas, as it happens). I was glad to be able to reflect on my recent experiences in Bangladesh, and how I have seen that country change – mostly for the better – over the last 21 years.
It was terrific that Steve drew so much attention to our website and my book “Small Loans, Big Dreams” – just as I had hoped he would. With luck, that will help energize year-end donations and book sales, which will put us in a better position for impact in 2010.