Grameen America is a nonprofit microfinance organization that empowers women who live in poverty to create better lives for themselves and their families through entrepreneurship. Grameen America provides affordable capital, credit- and asset-building, financial education and peer support to enable program participants to boost their income, enter the mainstream financial system and create jobs in their communities. Grameen America uses the group-lending model developed and successfully refined over 35 years by Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, in which members encourage, support, lead and learn from each other. This atypical underwriting makes it affordable and efficient to disburse large numbers of small loans and allows us to reach the most vulnerable populations with appropriate and accessible financial services. Our members have repaid their loans at a rate of over 99% and are helping transform the lives of their families and communities.
Grameen America serves low-income, primarily minority, women entrepreneurs who have been excluded from the mainstream financial system with limited opportunities for upward economic mobility. In the U.S, more than 1 in 8 women live in poverty; more than half of low-income children live in female-headed households; and women entrepreneurs receive only 4% of all conventional small business loans. We have provided over $1.6B in small business loans and served over 132,000 women in the U.S. The current economic crisis disproportionately affects our members. We are uniquely positioned to play a critical role in their resilience.
Daysi worked as a prep cook in L.A. It was arduous work, and she found it difficult to make ends meet. “I always had the idea of having a small business of my own but didn’t have the opportunity. I saw Grameen America was giving that possibility to women,” Daysi said. Today, Daysi has her own business selling jewelry and kitchenware and enjoys the support from her fellow entrepreneurs in the program, especially during this challenging year. The pandemic initially slowed Daysi’s sales significantly. She quickly adapted and began selling her products on social media. Then, she and her family fell ill with COVID-19. “I’m very grateful for Grameen America because they supported me during this time. My family is doing well, and I am much better. I have learned that any emergency can happen suddenly, and we need to be prepared.” This year reaffirmed her commitment to the success of her business and maintaining financial stability. “Before Grameen, I had bad credit. I got denied from a bank and couldn’t qualify for any other kind of loans or even for credit cards. Now I have a good credit score. I wouldn’t have enough time for myself or my interests, but now having my own business, I make my own hours. The best thing is that I’m my own boss. Joining Grameen America has changed my life. I’m an independent woman who is happy and satisfied.”