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A Letter to the Honorable Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, on Grameen Bank

Honorable Prime Minister Hasina, We are allies and friends of Bangladeshmen and women, public servants and businesspeople, and citizens whose countries have all known the sting of poverty. We write to commend your leadership in the fight to end poverty in your country, and to urge you to reject the findings of a recent commission that would jeopardize the role that Grameen Bank and the Grameen family of businesses have played in that fight. The Grameen family of businesses has delivered a profound and lasting benefit to the people of Bangladesh:   Grameen Bank has allowed millions to lift themselves and their families out of destitution, creating an independent, borrower-run company and a model for NGOs the world over. Its borrowers, 97% of whom are women, have shown the power of an economic model centered on equality and inclusion.   The 54 other social businesses within the Grameen family have provided tailored services to the poor and underprivileged: rehabilitating Bangladeshi fisheries; bringing low-cost, Sincerely, nutritionally rich food to impoverished communities; building health clinics to offer affordable medical care; and introducing solar power to rural areas without electricity.   Their founder, Muhammad Yunus, has been a tireless advocate for Bangladeshs success in improving the lives of its people. Both Bangladesh and the international community have a compelling interest in the safety and soundness of these institutions. We commend you for ensuring that Grameen Bank and the Grameen businesses are operating in the interests of the people they are meant to serve. However, the Special Commission on Grameen, created in May 2012, has not shown the same concern for the well-being of these institutions. We believe that it and its members are attempting to lead your government astray, and are putting the Bangladeshi people and their allies at great risk. The Commission, which was set up to offer guidance on the future of the Grameen businesses, recently provided your Finance Minister with a set of recommendations. These recommendations would disenfranchise nearly 5 million borrower-shareholders in Grameen Bank, dismiss the borrowers who sit on the banks board of directors, and replace them with government officials. They would also result in the government seizing portions of the Grameen businesses. These are recommendations which you and your finance ministry have the right to reject. We believe that implementing them could be disastrous. They would lead Bangladesh to violate its obligations under bilateral investment treaties, and to compromise the independence that has protected Grameen Bank from political turmoil over the last three decades. Moreover, we are concerned that the Commission may not be presenting its work in good faith, after the prolonged absence of half the commissions members was disclosed in the international press. You have continued Bangladeshs progress in combatting poverty and expressed a commitment to keeping Grameen Bank and the Grameen businesses healthy and stable for generations to come. We share that goal, and we urge you to reject any effort by the Commission that would injure Grameen and the Bangladeshi people.

Former U.S. Secretary of State; Chair, Albright Stonebridge Group

Madeleine Albright

Executive Chairman, Evercore

Roger Altman

Former Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Sheila Bair

Founder and Chairman, Virgin Group; Co-Founder, The B Team

Sir Richard Branson

United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change; Former Prime Minister of Norway

Gro Harlem Brundtland

Ursula Burns
CEO, Xerox

President and CEO, UN Foundation

Kathy Calvin

CEO, MicroVest Capital Management LLC

Gil Crawford

Former Senior U.S. Senator for the State of Connecticut; Former Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking

Christopher Dodd

Former President of Mexico

Vicente Fox

Governor (Ret.), Federal Reserve Board

Edward M. Kelley

President, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights

Kerry Kennedy

Former Chairman, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Arthur Levitt

Founder and CEO, Promontory Financial Group; Former U.S. Comptroller of the Currency

Eugene A. Ludwig

Former U.S. Ambassador to Austria

Susan McCaw

Nobel Peace Prize winner and peace activist

Mairead Maguire

Former President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Michael Moskow

Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury; Former Acting U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

Frank Newman

Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State for Management

Thomas Nides

President and CEO, Skoll Foundation

Sally Osberg

Former U.S. Executive Director, World Bank Group

Jan Piercy

Dean of Yale Law School and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law

Robert Post

Former Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Donald Powell

Former U.S. Federal Housing Commissioner

Nicolas Retsinas

Former U.S. Senator from the State of Michigan; Former Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development

Donald Riegle

Former President, Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, Bonn, Germany

Jochen Sanio

Former U.S. Senator from the State of Maryland; Former Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development

Paul Sarbanes

Managing Director, Promontory Financial Group; Former Chairman, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Mary Schapiro

Former U.S. Secretary of State

George Shultz

Senior Fellow, Urban Institute

Ellen Seidman

Chairman, Participant Media

Jeff Skoll

Yeardley Smith
Actress

Former Norwegian Minister of International Development and Minister of the Environment

Erik Solheim

Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State

Strobe Talbott

Former President of Peru

Alejandro Toledo

Peter Moores Dean and Professor of Finance, Said Business School, University of Oxford

Peter Tufano

Chairman, UN Foundation Board of Directors

Ted Turner

Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Anglican Archbishop

Desmond Tutu

Executive Director, Georgetown Center for Women, Peace, and Security; Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Womens Issues

Melanne Verveer

Former Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Paul Volcker

Vice Chairman, UN Foundation; Former U.S. Senator from the State of Colorado

Timothy Wirth

Founder, Zeitz Foundation; Co-Founder, The B Team

Jochen Zeitz

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