Thank you Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, for your wonderful speech last Friday, January 23rd.
We have, with President Obama, someone who believes in development and diplomacy. Coming to the State Department yesterday sent a very strong signal. A few of you may even know, as I mentioned in my testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee, that the President's late mother was an expert in microfinance and worked in Indonesia. I have been involved in microfinance since 1983, when I first met Muhammad Yunus and had Muhammad come to see us in Arkansas so that we could use the lessons from the Grameen Bank in our own country. I was actually looking forward to being on a panel with the President's mother in Beijing on microfinance.
You were very warmly welcomed by foreign service workers who have been struggling through eight years of the US losing its moral footing in the world. You brought up a favorite subject, microcredit, and two of my favorite people (along with yourself), President Obama's late mother, Ann Dunham Soetero, and Muhammad Yunus, my "boss."
One of those helping President Obama's late mother organize that meeting was Lawrence Yanovitch now heading up Poverty issues at the Gates Foundation. He spoke to me about his work with Ann Dunham Soetero when in Paris last year. This Obama victory is also a victory for her and her work with microcredit.
Microcredit is not the only answer but it surely should be an important part of not only how we restructure our own American economy, but how we support others around the world.
Microcredit helps women. Microcredit helps fight against fundamentalism and violence against women, children, immigrant communities, and makes the business-model approach to ending poverty a human one.
Muhammad Yunus' work with the Grameen Bank has now made it to the US with Grameen America. Organizations such as the Grameen Foundation have been replicating this model around the world.
President Obama's late mother "got it," Hillary Clinton "got it"...years before others. Now let's grow it at home and around the world. It's one banking system that is actually working. What other bank these days is made up mostly of women borrowers and can claim a 98-99% payback rate? Surely not Citibank!