Chicago, IL Apna Ghar, a Chicago-based not-for-profit organization, celebrated its 25th Anniversary Gala on Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 6:00 pm at Hilton Chicago located at 720 South Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605, with Muhammad Yunus, Noble Laureate and Founder of Grameen Bank as the Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker.
“Empowering women in general and those who belong to poorer sections of society in particular, by diversifying and enriching their income generation potential, holds the key to break the vicious circle of poverty”, said Yunus in his keynote address.
“They should be encouraged to come out with viable business ideas, provide them with loans to ground their proposed ventures, and help them out by creating a requisite support system in order to make them job providers rather than allowing them to stagnate as mere job seekers”, said Yunus. He added that the resultant culture of self-employment and entrepreneurship among women will generate additional income which will bring multiple beneficial outcomes for households and for society at large.
Yunus said that he made a humble beginning in Bangladesh by extending financial support to poor women, from out of his own pocket, to enable them to set up their own business units. “They proved him right in his trust in them by not only setting up their businesses but also making them commercially successful”, he added.
“The success of the initial lot of entrepreneurs led to the historical establishment of Grameen Bank, committed to cater to the needs of self-employment and entrepreneurship among poor people in general and their women counterparts in particular, which proved to be a win-win proposition for all the parties involved in this exercise”, said Yunus with a sense of accomplishment.
Yunus said that exposure of women to the emerging Information and Communication Technology will equip them not only to come out of the shadows of poverty but also to keep pace with the developments taking place around them.
“The first-generation women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, belonging to poorer sections of society, used their mobile phones not only for enhancing their social awareness but also for a number of other innovative purposes, including taking ECGs, eye-scanning, etc.”, Yunus stated and added that IT- literacy has become a sine qua non for one’s survival in the contemporary fast changing world of work.
Yunus said that poor people are neither deficient in their intelligence nor in their potential; the environment, which is hostile to the optimum use of human resources, gives rise to poverty. “If supportive mechanism is created, poor people will respond positively to it by tapping their full potential, which will lead to a transformation in their economic profile”, he added.
Yunus congratulated Apna Ghar for serving the victims of gender violence for a long period of 25 years. “It is a great achievement for a voluntary organization in its own right, which deserves to be emulated, on a larger scale, by similar organizations in the US and beyond”, he added.
Earlier, Saiyed Rabbani, President, Board of Directors welcomed Muhammed Yunus, eminent guests from different walks of life, functionaries of Apna Ghar, and others to the celebration of the milestone year in the history of Apna Ghar. He said that Apna Ghar is one of the first agencies in the US which has been serving the victims of gender violence in South Asian and other immigrant communities across the Chicago metro area, through 24-hour crisis line, a roof over survivors’ heads with emergency shelter, healing though group and individual counseling, support to navigate the legal system, and access to attorneys for legal cases, etc. Alderman James Cappleman, 46th Ward, Chicago spoke about his personal motivation for public service in general and support to Apna Ghar in particular.
Awards were presented to Ramzan & Parvin Dhanji Family Foundation, Ashima Mehta, and to Shakuntala Chhabria for their generous support to Apna Ghar in fulfilling its mission and vision and also to Surinder Nand and Danial Noorani in appreciation of their dedication and services to Apna Ghar.
The event included an informative video and slideshow presentation highlighting the history of Apna Ghar and a mesmerizing performance by modern guitar virtuoso, Fareed Haque and his band MathGames. The event brought together more than 350 guests, who are deeply committed to the vision of Apna Ghar.
Ravi Baichwal, Anchor the ABC 7 Weekened News, was the Master of the Ceremonies. He stole the hearts of the audience by conducting the proceedings of the function in a professional fashion, laced with his wit and sense of humor. Apna Ghar was founded by five Asian American women activists in 1989.