Women We Love: A Tribute to Mildred Robbins Leet

Thu, 2011-05-12 19:14
On May 3, 2011 we were saddened to learn of the passing of one of the original figures of the microfinance movement, Mrs. Mildred Robbins Leet. Today Grameen America recognizes her outstanding contribution to the field of microfinance for over 32 years through her organization Trickle Up. Who She Is: Mrs. Leet was a philanthropist and activist who, along with her late husband Glen, was a co-founder of the non-profit microgrant organization Trickle Up.

Why We Love Her: Mrs. Leet started Trickle Up in a very similar fashion to the way Professor Yunus did with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, by producing the organizations initial capital of $1,000 from her own pocket.These initial grants were distributed to 10 trial businesses in the Caribbean and each grantee returned her generosity with hard work and success. Mrs. Leet also chose to focus on the empowerment of women through microgrants. Today over 80% of the program is comprised of women. Since 1979 Trickle Up has helped more than 200,000 people create 2,000 businesses.Today the organization aims to alleviate poverty in five countries: Mali, Burkina Faso, India, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

In addition to her involvement with Trickle Up, Mrs. Leet was also involved with and helped establish numerous other charitable organizations such as the US Committee for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), United Cerebral Palsy, Metropolitan College of New York, and InterAction, the association for US humanitarian and development organizations.

Mrs. Leet was also the recipient of many awards for her work and philanthropy including the “Women of the World Award” in 1989, which she received from Princess Diana along with fellow awardees Mother Theresa and Wangari Maathi.

A website celebrating her life: http://www.mildredrobbinsleet.org/index.html

NY Times Obituary: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/09/nyregion/mildred-robbins-leet-philanthropist-dies-at-88.html?_r=1&ref=obituaries

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