Photo courtesy of Grameen America

Greater Opportunities for Latina Entrepreneurs through Microloans

Last month, we completed an exciting new $6 million loan to Grameen America, an organization that has helped countless people throughout the U.S. live happier, healthier, and more secure lives. We’re thrilled to be working with them as they continue to expand the scope of their services.

Grameen America focuses on lending to low-income women who are trying to start or grow their own businesses. Since it was founded in 2008, Grameen America has worked with almost 65,000 women, most of whom are Latina, and provided them not only with the capital they needed to get started, but also with encouragement and education about all things financial.

To provide clients with a personalized borrowing experience, Grameen America utilizes the unique Grameen Group lending system. In this model, a woman in need of a loan gathers a group of four supportive peers. Together, they attend a week of training and learn about all the financial strategies they need to know to keep their businesses afloat, from loans to savings to credit. At the end of the week, all five women open savings accounts, and they each receive a loan of $1,500 to support the growth of their businesses. By working alongside a community of responsible, informed and dedicated women, the entrepreneurs can continue to learn and grow together as they manage their personal enterprises.

Professor Muhammad Yunus, inventor of the Grameen Group lending model and chair of Grameen America’s board of directors, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for this method of lending and his overall devotion to providing low-income individuals with the capital they need to get their ideas off the ground. After experiencing massive success with his methodology overseas, Yunus realized that his system would be equally beneficial to women living in poverty in the U.S., particularly those in urban areas. Grameen America currently services 11 cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Boston.

Women, particularly women of color, are still significantly disadvantaged economically. Approximately one in three women in the United States is living in or on the brink of poverty. When women do decide to start businesses, they often can obtain only half as much capital as their male counterparts. By focusing on lending to these traditionally disadvantaged communities, Grameen America hopes to gradually close the business opportunity gaps between all genders and races.

“Every day, I see the real life impact of this staggering inequality that forces so many women to put everything on the line to get a fair shot,” wrote Grameen America President, Andrea Jung. “These women deserve better. I believe that together we will move the needle towards greater economic opportunity, one microloan at a time.”

This $6 milllion loan was made as a part of our Raíces initiative to help thousands of determined Latina women and their families to escape poverty. Raíces, which means “roots” in Spanish, enables investors to create economic growth and opportunity in Latino communities throughout the U.S. and Latin America. Grameen America predominantly serves Latina women entrepreneurs across the US and Puerto Rico. With an investment in Raíces, you can help fuel the growth of groundbreaking organizations like Grameen America.

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