Grameen in the UK appoints new Chair

07 December 2015

Grameen in the UK appoints new Chair

Mr Willy Roe CBE

Grameen in the UK, the micro-lending initiative facilitated by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Willy Roe CBE as the new Chair of the Grameen Scotland Foundation.

Inspired by the international Grameen Bank developed by GCU Chancellor, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and global social business pioneer, Grameen in the UK is the first micro-lending initiative of its type in Western Europe. The model has been used successfully in developing countries to support entrepreneurship, combat poverty and alleviate economic, health and social inequalities and is now established in Scotland.

Mr Roe brings a wealth of experience to the role of Chairman. As current Chair of the British Council Scotland Advisory Committee, he leads its work in Scotland on international cultural relations and educational opportunities. Previous roles have included Chair of Highlands and Islands Enterprise from 2004 to 2012 and Chair of Skills Development Scotland from 2008 to 2010. A long-standing advocate of social enterprise, Mr Roe’s career has focused on community leadership, community housing initiatives, fuel poverty, social work reform and employability.

Mr Roe succeeds Dr Martin Cheyne, past Chair of the GCU Court and an Honorary Graduate, current Chair of NHS Ayrshire & Arran and Captain of Royal Troon Golf Club.

As the first Chairman of the Grameen Scotland Foundation, the charitable trust which oversees and holds Grameen in the UK accountable, Dr Cheyne was instrumental in its development from the earliest stages in 2010.  This initiative has flourished since it began offering loans two years ago and to date, Grameen in the UK has issued more than 250 loans to individuals keen to start their own business but without the necessary collateral to do so. Supported by their peers in the Grameen model, between them their businesses have received a total of £274,500 from Grameen in the UK. With no bad debts recorded in year one and payment arrears lower than other UK ‘subprime’ lenders, it is now preparing to expand to other disadvantaged communities across the west of Scotland.

GCU Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE, a founding Trustee of the initiative, said: "Glasgow Caledonian University has been proud to facilitate bringing the Grameen model of microfinance to the UK and we welcomed the Chief Scientist Office grant to allow us to measure its impact on the health, wellbeing and prosperity of some of our citizens from the most challenging parts of Glasgow.

"Dr Cheyne, a lifelong champion of social justice, should be praised for his commitment and tenacity in establishing the initiative in its early years.  We now welcome Mr Roe and look forward to the growth of the initiative under his wise and experienced leadership."

In commenting on the appointment Professor Yunus noted that Mr Roe is "an activist and very dedicated to social justice through social business. I am confident he’ll bring a wealth of experience to the organisation."