New Intern for Microfinance Brigades

Parlez vous Français? Microfinance Brigades now does!

Merrilee Chapin, 02/10/2009

‘’Microfinance helps the people to diversify and discover themselves.” –Dr. Mohammad Yunus

Dr. Prof Mohammad Yunus (2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) invited the director of Global Microfinance Brigades, Merrilee Chapin to participate in the Grameen Trust/Grameen Bank 56th International Dialogue program and microfinance training in Bangladesh last August. It was a thrilling honor because Dr. Yunus, often called “the father of microfinance,” and Grameen Bank are iconic revolutionaries of microfinance and an inspiration to millions (hence the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize)! And, “it all started with the simple idea that a small amount of capital when delivered in a systematic way, can empower the very poor.” –M. Khalid Shams, Grameen Trust

Beyond the chance to develop the Microfinance Brigades (MFB) program amongst a fascinating group of MF professionals from 13 different countries; MFB also found the ideal MFB Brigade Coordinator out of a Grameen Bank intern at the time. Several months after this opportune meeting half-way around the world in Bangladesh, Global Microfinance Brigades welcomes Romain Testard to the Honduras team!

Romain is French and has studied and worked in microfinance throughout France, India, United States and Bangladesh. He chose to come to Honduras because Latin America is the emerging market for microfinance – it is the region in which microfinance is being used in exciting new ways for sustainable development.

To introduce his background, Romain has a BBA in Finance from the MBA Institute, a business school located in Paris, France. During his studies, Romain proactively studied the best practices from top microfinance practitioners and experts. In fact, in addition to Grameen Bank, he also interned and received training from world-famous MFIs such as Planet Finance.

Planet Finance is an international organization fighting poverty by developing microfinance around the world but also provides expertise in numerous subjects related to microfinance through sister companies such as: Planis (specialized in advisory services, structuring and managing microfinance funds), Planet Rating (microfinance rating agency), Planet University (specialized in microfinance training and research center), and more …

Grameen Bank founded by Dr. Prof Mohammad Yunus in 1983 is a reference in the industry. Grameen Bank is reaching more than 7 million households in Bangladesh, 94% of its borrowers are women, and has a recovery rate of 98% (higher than any banking system).

Romain’s meeting with Dr. Yunus was a turning point in his life, and as he likes to take from him, ‘’Microfinance helps the people to diversify and to discover themselves.’’

Indeed, from Romain’s point of view, Microfinance has to be considered as a core element of development studies and practices due to its emphasis on empowerment and sustainability.

If you would like to learn more about microfinance and experience first-hand how you can use it to truly empower the impoverished in rural Honduras; come on a Global Microfinance Brigade for a life-changing experience with Romain, Merrilee, and the rest of the MFB team!

Merrilee Chapin is the Director of GB’s newest program, Microfinance Brigades in Honduras. You can contact her at

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