The Columban Fathers have a long tradition of starting charitable, practical economic projects in their various mission countries. Columban Father Sean J. Connaughton had served for years in the poverty-stricken Philippines, when in 1989 he set up a chapter of the Grameen Bank in Manila.
In the 1970s, Bangladeshi Professor Muhammad Yunus had started the Grameen Bank, an organization that sets up small groups to create “microloans” for businesses and cooperatives in developing nations. Professor Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work with the Grameen Bank, and the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
Father Connaughton saw many cooperative ventures he had endorsed in the Philippines fail due to lack of capital.
In 1989, he started the first Grameen Bank branch in the Manila neighborhood of Jala Jala where he was working. More than 25 years later, the branch had 1,300 employees and had helped countless Filipinos to create capital and build businesses that benefited all.
Father Connaughton’s work with the Grameen Bank in the Philippines continued the Columban practice of abstract Christian charity translated into empirical, beneficial projects.