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The formation of RAGM
Category: Microcredit | By RAGM, 15-Jun-2012 | Viewed 2708  Comments 0
Fabio Carballo
How did RAGM get formed? When did it happen and what was the original idea? Had the Rotarians involved in forming the group worked in ECD before?

Rotary International began to approve Global Networking Groups or what has become known as Rotarian Action Groups in 2005. They were designed to allow the sub - division of Rotary Fellowships that had socially redeeming purposes, to publicize their actions and attract resources. Microcredit was one of these compelling social movements, which The Rotary Foundation embraced through its Revolving Loans Program. Together Microcredit and Revolving Loans were a precursor to the Area of Focus in Rotary's Future Vision Plan known as Economic & Community Development.

The concept of Microcredit has become a modern phenomenon over the last 30+ years. On a global scale Microcredit borrowers grew in number from 7 million (1997) to 100 million (2006). In 2006 Dr. Muhammad Yunus from Grameen Bank, accepted, along with the Bank's 7 million borrowers, the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. For its part, the United Nations designated 2006 as the Year of Microcredit. The stage was set for a strong recommendation that Rotarians involved in Microcredit should apply for status as a Rotarian Action Group (RAG). 

Fortunately, Carolyn Jones, the first Lady TRF Trustee, had the foresight to contact several Rotarian Microcredit leaders about forming a Rotarian Action Group for Microcredit. Through her encouragement and the hard work of the "original four" Directors, Steven Rickard, Fabio Carballo, Deniel Banks and Steve Bell, (last two of which were the heroes who tackled most of the leg work), the RAGM application was submitted in 2007. The application went under the signatures of three Rotary District Governors - Fabio Carballo D4240, Holly Axtell D5150 and Steve Rickard D5360. RAGM came into existence with the final acceptance by R.I. a short while later. 

Since our inception the Rotarian Action Group for Microcredit (RAGM) has grown to include over 500 members and a mailing list of four times this size of approximately 2,000. To help us share information amongst this growing network, we also have a world class website, which is fully in tune with the modern social media communication technologies has been developed and launched. 

This new website, social media platforms, as well as our new blog, helps RAGM achieve its mandate to educate and promote all matters related to Rotarian microcredit projects including the advantages of the Future Vision Plan, the associated grants available through the area of focus known as Economic and Community Development, and stories about other projects throughout the world. 

What other ways does RAGM support Rotary Clubs and Districts?

In addition to sharing information, RAGM also has an indirect goal to support and help sustain district Microcredit Initiatives. One example of this work are the  Microcredit Task Forces which are  underway, and experiencing successes in places like Southern California and Southern Alberta. In the latter's case over the last five years District 5360 has sent more than $1 million to microcredit projects in Ghana, Liberia, Costa Rica, Haiti & Dominican Republic.

RAGM also works externally to develop partnerships with global Microcredit organizations.  In-the-field "Operators" or micro finance institutions (MFIs) including, but not limited to,  Opportunity International, FINCA and Foundation For Women represent some of the organizations that have worked with RAGM and Rotary Clubs on microcredit projects. It also works with Rotary International to support the work of strategic partners Oikocredit International.

As we continue to build our capabilities, RAGM is excited to look toward the future and our journey to help Rotary clubs and districts in creating successful Microcredit projects to support Economic and Community Development. 

Fabio Carballo
Regional Outreach to Latin America Director, RAGM

PDG Fabio Carballo is Founding Vice President of the Rotarian Action Group for Microcredit. He is a member of the Club Rotario San Jose Noreste, Costa Rica and a Past District 4240 Governor.
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