|Area served||United States|
|Motto||Building a nation without poverty|
Grameen America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit microfinance organization based in New York. It was founded by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus in 2008. Grameen America provides loans, savings programs, financial education, and credit establishment to women who live in poverty in the United States. All loans must be used to build small businesses.
Grameen America offers four key products.
- Microloan. The maximum first-time loan is $1,500, though borrowers can return for larger loans once they have repaid their initial loan.
- Savings program. Grameen America provides no-fee, no minimum balance savings accounts through commercial partner banks.
- Credit Establishment. Grameen America supports helps build members credit by reporting loan repayments directly to Experian.
- Financial Education. Grameen encourages group mentoring during a five day initial training and weekly meetings with members.
The requirements to receive a loan: Individual must be living below the poverty line, located in a community with a Grameen America branch and willing to create or join a five member group of like-minded individuals who want to start or expand their own businesses. No credit score, collateral, guarantors, or bank account is required.
Grameen America uses a peer-group lending model pioneered by Professor Yunus and the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Once a peer group of five lendees is formed, they go through a financial training program and each open savings accounts. Upon completion of the training program, each member receives their loan. Grameen America staff holds mandatory weekly group meetings during which members repay loans, deposit savings and receive peer support and mentoring. Upon successful repayment, members may apply for another loan. The success of the Grameen Bank microfinance model in Bangladesh demonstrates that a high-touch model based on small weekly payments can yield exceptional repayment rates.
Purpose of loans
Grameen America requires all loans to be used to start or expand income-generating businesses. Common businesses include food carts, flower stands, tailoring, jewelry and crafts and salon services.
Grameen America's first branch, located in Jackson Heights, NY, opened in January 2008. As of the end of 2012, Grameen America operates in Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan, NY, as well as in Omaha, NE Indianapolis, IN, Charlotte, NC, San Francisco Bay Area, CA and Los Angeles, CA.
Grameen America was founded upon the belief that Grameen Bank's microfinance lending system could work in urban America as well as it had in Bangeldesh. Professor Yunus believed that for the world to acknowledge the power of microfinance, it must work in the capital of international finance, New York City, where there exists a huge population of people who do not have access to banks and mainstream financial institutions. Grameen America opened its doors in January 2008 during the largest financial crisis of the modern era.
New York City is the world capital of banking. In these skyscrapers that New York built, they control world finance. What I pointed out is that they do the banking with the world but they don't do the banking with their neighbors. We are here to show that there is nothing wrong with doing banking with neighbors. So we hope we will create some confidence in them. If we change the banks' mind, the whole world will change.—Muhammad Yunus, May 17, 2010, Grand Opening of Grameen America's Manhattan branch
As of Q2 2013, Grameen America had disbursed over $90 million in micro-loans to more than 17,000 women living below the US poverty line.
Board of Directors:
- Muhammad Yunus - Chairman of the Board of Directors
- H.I. Latifee
- Vidar Jorgensen
- Ray Dalio
- Michael D. Granoff
- Mahmoud Mamdani
- John Megrue
- Sila M. Calderón
- Hope Knight
- Stephen Vogel - CEO, Grameen America
- Katherine Rosenberg - Senior Vice President, Grameen America
- Shah Newaz - CEO of Operations
Grameen America is a Grameen replication project. Grameen America is not affiliated with Grameen Foundation.
- Official website
- "Grameen America Distributes $1 Million Worth of Micro-Loans to Underbanked Women Entrepreneurs in New York City". Market Wired. November 12, 2008.
- "Grameen America Celebrates Grand Opening of Bronx Branch". Grameen America. September 30, 2011.
- "Poverty Alleviation in the United States: Whole Planet Foundation and Grameen America". YouTube. February 16, 2012.
- "Nonprofit gives microloans to low-income Americans". Morning Joe (MSNBC). September 26, 2011.
- "Dan Rather Reports Excerpt from 'Grameen America'". YouTube. January 28, 2011.
- "The Conversation: Can Microloans Change the World?". ABC News. May 19, 2010.