Alex Counts is sipping club soda in Hotel Imperial's stunning bar, 1911, and talking about unleashing a battle 'against poverty in India so that by 2008, 12.5 million poor people may begin living better lives'.
As president and CEO of Grameen Foundation, a US-based non-government organisation that also has interests in India despite being so much better known for its work in Bangladesh, Counts is pleased to report a grant of $150,000 received from American Express to carry on the good work.
Though American Express has been supporting Grameen Foundation since 1997, this is its single largest grant to the NGO's 'capacity building programme' so far.
The donation will help impart advanced training and technical assistance on accounting, management information systems, human resources and operations to Grameen's local partners: Activists for Social Alternatives in Tamil Nadu, Cashpor Financial and Technical Services in Uttar Pradesh, Grameen Koota in Karnataka, Share Microfin and Swayam Krishi Sangam in Andhra Pradesh.
With this exercise, Rajiv Ahuja, director, head, public affairs and communications, India and area countries,American Express, hopes to 'make a difference in the lives of people'.
In numerical terms, the Grameen Foundation wants to help 2 million impoverished families by the end of this year. The amazing thing, from a global bankers' perspective, is that the donation is just 7.5 cents per family.
If this proves effective, it could show how unbelievably cost-effective do-gooding can be. After all, $150,000 is barely a single global banker's annual pay. And two million could disappear in the millions of poverty stricken as easily as the ice in Counts' glass.
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