top of page

Microfinance—providing affordable loans and other financial services to help the poorest people lift themselves out of poverty—was pioneered by the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. In 2006, the bank and its founder, Muhammad Yunus, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and microfinance has since gone on to serve over 100 million people—mostly women—on five continents.


First published in 1996, Small Loans, Big Dreams is the classic account of the origins and development of microfinance, from the $27 in loans given by a young economics professor to liberate poor villagers from loan sharks to its present status as a sometimes-controversial global phenomenon. Alex Counts, a protegé of Yunus and founder of the Grameen Foundation, paints vivid portraits of the determined women he came to know whose lives have been transformed by the opportunity to launch a small business, first in the countryside of Bangladesh, then in downtown Chicago, where an experimental project brought the microfinance method to America.


In this new edition, Counts traces the history of microfinance, exploring the ways Grameen Bank has evolved in response to challenges from economic downturns to environmental crises. He depicts the various forms—some highly effective, others less so—that microfinance has taken in countries around the world, including Grameen America, the rapidly growing microfinance enterprise now headed by Andrea Jung that serves thousands of women across the U.S. Finally, Counts responds to critics who have questioned the value of the Grameen model and describes the lasting legacy of Yunus’s remarkable vision. Small Loans, Big Dreams shows how microfinance can play a critical role in reducing the scourge of inequality by enabling underprivileged people to participate creatively in the global economy.

SMALL LOANS, BIG DREAMS, 2022 Edition, by Alex Counts (eBook)

Excluding Sales Tax
  • Alex Counts is the author of several books, including Changing the World Without Losing Your Mind: Leadership Lessons from Three Decades of Social Entrepreneurship (Revised Edition) (Rivertowns Books, 2021). He is an independent consultant to nonprofit organizations (including the India Philanthropy Alliance), was an affiliated faculty of the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy from 2017 to 2021, and is a senior adviser and ambassador at large for a)plan coaching.

    He also wrote When in Doubt, Ask for More: And 213 Other Life and Career Lessons for the Mission-Driven Leader (Rivertowns Books, 2020), which prompted Ashoka founder Bill Drayton to say, “Alex Counts has been critical to creating and building the global microcredit movement from its start. He knows how to lead. And how to write! When in Doubt, Ask for More will help you be a more powerful leader—and have fun doing so.”

    In 1997 he established Grameen Foundation with the support of Nobel laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus and became its President and CEO. He did so after having worked in microfinance and poverty reduction for 10 years, mostly spent living in rural Bangladesh. He ran the organization for its first 18 years, and remains a friend and volunteer of Grameen Foundation. He served as the President and CEO of American India Foundation in 2016-2017.

bottom of page