Alex Counts

Alex Counts founded Grameen Foundation and became its President and CEO in 1997, after having worked in microfinance and poverty reduction for 10 years. A Cornell University graduate, Counts’ commitment to poverty eradication deepened as a Fulbright scholar in Bangladesh, where he witnessed innovative poverty solutions being developed by Grameen Bank. He trained under Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Since its modest beginnings, sparked by a $6,000 seed grant provided by Prof. Yunus (who was a founding board member and continues as director emeritus), Grameen Foundation has grown to a leading international humanitarian organization with an annual budget of approximately $25 million.

Counts has propelled Grameen Foundation’s philosophy through his writings, including Small Loans, Big Dreams: How Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and Microfinance Are Changing the World. Counts has also been published inThe Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, the Stanford Social Innovation ReviewThe Miami HeraldThe Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere. In 2007 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Horace Mann School. While at Cornell University, he received the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award, given annually by the Class of 1964 to the graduating senior who is the best example of the ideal of public service articulated by our 35thPresident.

Counts is a board member, and the immediate past Chair, of Fonkoze USA and co-chairs the Fonkoze Family Coordinating Committee—two governance bodies related to the largest microfinance institution in Haiti. He is also immediate past Chair of Project Enterprise, a New York City microlender, and board member emeritus. He sits on the Advisory Council of the Center for Financial Inclusion, and the Truelift Steering Committee, and serves as Co-Chair of the Microfinance CEO Working Group.

Before leading Grameen Foundation, Counts served as the legislative director of RESULTS and as a regional project manager for CARE-Bangladesh. He speaks Bengali and lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, Emily, and their cat, Seymour.

 

Eight Steps to Successfully Managing a Founder Transition

The departure and replacement of long-tenured Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of international humanitarian organizations are clearly complex and often go awry. When the CEO is also the founder, the situation becomes even trickier. The issues involved are not unique to social change organizations, but they are perhaps more pronounced. Egos can get bruised, feelings hurt, and people struggle to function in new roles, in part because they are not properly supported. Mission focus gets blurred, if not temporarily lost. 

Alex Counts's picture
Title: 
Founder, Grameen Foundation
Phone: 
2022578739