Portfolio Partner Profile

Grameen America

Founded by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus, Grameen America is a nonprofit microfinance organization dedicated to helping women who live in poverty build small businesses to create better lives for their families. The organization offers microloans, training and support to transform communities and fight poverty in the United States. Since opening in January 2008, Grameen America has invested over $3.37 billion in more than 175,304 low-income women entrepreneurs across the United States.

Read more about Grameen America on our blog.

Featured Impact Story

Lissette - Grameen - Spa Owner in the Bronx

Impact Story

Lissette: Spa Owner in the Bronx, NY

Lissette got her start working in various salons and spas to hone her craft and build professional connections. She was soon promoted to lead esthetician at one spa after only six months because of her work ethic and natural skill. She was immensely proud of the progress she made and felt the recognition was reflective of the time and attention she paid to each client.

Lissette discovered that she was vastly underpaid, even compared to the junior estheticians that she directly managed. After making the difficult decision to leave the spa and open her own business, Lissette began to turn her own at-home spa, BellaShique, into a reality. She needed sufficient loan capital to purchase an array of supplies to maintain the high-quality services she became known for among her loyal clients. It was then that she learned about Grameen America and the support she could receive as a small business owner.

In 2014, with her first Grameen America loan of $1,300, Lissette was able to replicate a spa-like experience in her home with a table, products, and tools. The financial support allowed Lissette to pursue her dream and she quickly spread the word of Grameen America’s help to others in her community. In October 2022, Lissette’s hard work and determination led to her biggest achievement yet — the opening of BellaShique’s first retail location.

Photo credit: Grameen America

Impact Story

Jasmine: Creative Studio Owner in Newark, NJ

Jasmine Grameen

Jasmine is an entrepreneur by trade and creative at heart. She has always known herself as the “girl with a camera” and seized the opportunity to use her visual arts and graphic design skills to start a business.

As Jasmine began to hire photographers and stylists to help her build out her clothing boutique’s website, she quickly realized there was an opportunity to support like-minded creators in her community. In 2017, Jasmine converted her 1,200 square foot space in Jersey City into a fully equipped photography studio and creative incubator, which she has owned and operated for the past five years. Since joining Grameen America, Jasmine has used her loan capital to advertise and promote her studio services to bring in new customers.

Looking ahead, Jasmine has big dreams for her business, which she feels are within reach because of savings habits instilled in her by Grameen America. In the short term, she is planning to expand into additional office space adjacent to her current studio to accommodate her growing team. However, her ultimate goal is to open a sister studio based on the west coast. Cognizant of her unexpected journey, Jasmine’s greatest piece of advice to her fellow entrepreneurs is to embrace the uncertainty that comes with forging your own path and never give up.

Photo credit: Grameen America

Impact Story

A desire to grow her business


For Maria, life has been easier since she joined Grameen America. For 22 years, she has owned her hair salon in Los Angeles. Sparked by a desire to grow her business, Maria became a member of Grameen America as a recommendation from a friend already in the program.

Initially, Maria rented space at a local salon. As her client base grew, she decided to start her own business and now has a space all to herself. Maria’s involvement in Grameen America has meant she can hire staff to diversify the services at her salon and currently has three full-time employees.

Maria used her first loan of $1,500 to invest in marketing promotions to attract more business in her community to go to her salon. With her most recent loan of $4,250, Maria completed a three-month refurbishment of her salon.

Since joining Grameen America, Maria’s credit has been positively impacted, where previously she did not have a credit score. Maria has three children, one of whom works in the salon with her. In the future, she hopes her children will take over the salon and continue to grow the business.

Photo credit: Grameen America

Impact Story

Relishing the opportunity


Fifteen years ago, Matilde was struggling to support her five children through her small shoe-shining business. The bulk of her financial issues related to loans she took from payday lenders. Due to their high interest rates, she saw little of her shop’s profits herself and was under considerable stress.

In order to make ends meet, Matilde started selling homemade quesadillas from a stall outside her store. The high demand for her food spurred Matilde to refocus her shoe business towards opening a restaurant.

After a friend introduced Matilde to Grameen America, she used her first loan of $1,500 to invest in setting up her restaurant. Without the burden of payday loans, Matilde was able to increase her income by 80%, and she was no longer impacted by the stress of paying back high interest loans.

Matilde relishes the opportunity to connect with other business owners at her weekly center meetings. Now on her thirteenth loan, Matilde recently invested in three refrigerators, a grill, and a van to service catering events.

Matilde believes that Grameen America has given her the head start she needed to transform her life. Matilde is saving regularly through the support of the program and hopes to inspire her children to join her business one day.

Photo credit: Grameen America

Impact Story

Horses and cavalry


Aurora’s store is focused on horses and cavalry—she sells boots, belts, hats, clothing, and horse treads in a mall in Houston. Her most popular product is the Texan boots. Before opening the business, Aurora was tired of working hard for someone else, so she stretched her meager savings to open the store on a shoestring.

The loans from Grameen America have significantly impacted Aurora’s business. She has been able to move to a larger storefront and extend the variety of stock available at her store. Aurora's favorite part of owning her business is seeing clients happy with their purchases.

Aurora is married with two sons and two daughters, aged nine to 19. While she doesn’t employ any staff, during the busier times of service, Aurora’s family members help at the store. Her family enjoy contributing to the success of the business.

Aurora is focused on investing any profit back into her business. Aurora’s motivation to join Grameen America was to build her credit score. Now, her timely loan repayments are reported to the credit bureaus, and Aurora’s credit score has developed from credit invisible to a respectable position and will continue to grow.

Photo credit: Grameen America

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Sectors and Topics:

Small Business
Gender Equity


North America


United States

US States:

California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas

First Year of Investment:




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