Monday, June 29, 2009

Gordon Starr, Starr Consulting Group - From a letter dated October 14, 2006 -

“Having not looked at a newspaper for two or three days, I was floored when I saw in the NY Times that Muhammad Yunus, who created the idea of microcredit when he started the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, has been chosen for the Nobel Peace Prize. I have been bubbling with excitement ever since.You undoubtedly know he was chosen. You may not know your role in that coming about. Here is the story. Sam Harris, a quiet, retiring and almost shy music teacher in Florida, attended a Hunger Project event in 1977, having earlier taken the est training. Like me and tens of thousands of others, he was deeply moved by the idea that “the little individual” could make a difference. He checked the little box that said “I will create my own form of participation”, and in doing so created what would become a lifetime commitment to ending global hunger. He started Results which rapidly became the largest and most effective grass roots lobbying organization in the United States for the end of global hunger. Sam (who is now Sam Daley-Harris after marrying Shannon Daley) told me this afternoon that he met you personally in 1987 and talked with you about Results. It was that same year he first met Muhammad Yunus. They have been close friends and partners ever since.The Grameen Bank took off like wildfire in Bangladesh, shattering traditional myths regarding banking, credit and the very poor. With Muhammad, Sam created the idea of the Microcredit Summit Campaign to take this success global, using many of the principles of The Hunger Project. In Washington D.C. in 1997, the Microcredit Summit Campaign was launched in a two-day event with (if I remember correctly) over 2,000 people from over 100 countries, including 14 heads of state, and of course Muhammad Yunus as the source of the initiative. Hillary Clinton made an hour-long speech. Queen Sophia was there. In one breakout room, I looked in the row behind me and there was Robert McNamara. The commitment was to reach 100 million of the world’s poorest families with microcredit by 2005. It was launched with a global support structure that was brilliantly designed and robust. That launching event was profound – and Sam, then around 50, put it all together with a team of only 12 twenty-somethings, mostly volunteers, armed with only passion – no group of 12 high-powered CEO’s could have done nearly as well. Sam has been the director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign ever since. It has been outrageously successful. It put microcredit on the global stage. Sam, who is the distinction Enrollment, has campaigned for five years to get Muhammad nominated, specifically through his personal relationships with Hillary Clinton and President Vicente Fox of Mexico. While microcredit is Muhammad’s invention, and flourished under his courageous, sourceful and visionary leadership, I am clear the wide global impact it is having today would not be possible without Sam’s own visionary leadership and work in support of Muhammad and his idea. Sam asked that I let you know how profoundly you, the est training, and The Hunger Project have inspired his life and his work. Sam says that without your influence he probably would have lived his life at 4 feet tall but instead has been able to live it at 9 feet tall. He sends to you his deep appreciation and gratitude for your contribution to his life. Thank you for being the possibility of being for human beings.