The Grameen Foundation has announced that in the five years since the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami left hundreds of thousands of people dead, including more than a hundred thousand in Indonesia alone, it has provided grants totaling more than $2.2 million to aid recovery in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, the region closest to the tsunami's epicenter.
Working in collaboration with Mitra Dhuafa, an Aceh-based microfinance institution that it helped establish in September 2005, Grameen enabled more than 16,000 Achenese women to build sustainable businesses. Funded in part by the Saudi Arabia-based Abdul Latif Jameel Group, Grameen also initiated an assessment and recovery initiative while receiving additional support from the American Red Cross, Nokia, and the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation.
Before the tsunami, there was little microfinance activity in Banda Aceh, one of Indonesia's poorest regions. Mitra Dhuafa currently operates nine branches and continues to receive technical support from Grameen, which has enabled the organization to expand its efforts while reaching out to women who live in the most remote areas.
"The scale of the devastation and suffering was overwhelming, but we knew that microfinance had a crucial role to play in the long-term economic recovery of the families and communities," said Grameen Foundation president Alex Counts. "Banda Aceh has made great strides since the tsunami, especially in more central areas, which were the easiest to reach in the aftermath. However, there are pockets in more remote areas which still need attention, and we are committed to ensuring that [the] poorest and most vulnerable residents have the resources they need to better safeguard their families' futures."