100&Change: 2021

Ending the Cycle of Poverty: Financing Low-Income Women Entrepreneurs

Grameen America, Inc.

Grameen America addresses the high rates of poverty and financial exclusion across the U.S. by disbursing microloans to entrepreneurial women in low-income communities.

Submitted: August 2019
DOWNLOAD: Project Factsheet
Two-page overview of proposal
Competition Participation
100&Change: 2021
Gender equality
Current Work Location(s):
  • California, United States
  • Florida, United States
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Texas, United States
  • New York, United States
  • California, United States
  • Illinois, United States
  • Pennsylvania, United States
  • Texas, United States
Priority Population(s):
  • Economically disadvantaged people
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
  • 1. No poverty
  • 5. Gender equality
  • 8. Decent work and economic growth

Executive Summary

Grameen America (GAI) builds upon the revolutionary but simple idea that people can lift themselves out of poverty through their own entrepreneurial spirit. Since 2008, we have not only tested the microfinance model in different markets across the U.S. to prove its viability, but we also have the research that shows that our model can empower low-income women entrepreneurs in the U.S. to build better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. Currently, there are 40 million people living in poverty in the U.S. Women are 38% more likely to be impoverished than men and more than half of low-income children live in female-headed households. By expanding our footprint to 14 more branches, we will reach 350,000 women entrepreneurs by 2026, have a material impact on poverty alleviation, and improve the economic situation of their spouses, children and employees, changing the lives of nearly 1 million Americans.

Organization Details
Lead Organization

Grameen America, Inc.

website: http://grameenamerica.org
Organization Headquarters
New York County, New York, United States
Organization ID
Annual Operating Budget
$10 to $49 Million
Number of Full-time Employees
100 to 299

Charity, fund, non-governmental organization, religious institution, school, or other entity

COVID-19 Response

Grameen America's 52,000 entrepreneurial clients have been badly affected by the pandemic, with a loss of business and/or loss of income for most. Grameen America has gone 100% remote, including its weekly meetings with members, and made all of its loans interest-free through June 30, 2020. It is providing other forms of financial relief to its clients, including loan extensions, emergency recovery loans and repayment relief, and is aiming to raise an additional $72M to cover its COVID-19 relief efforts. Its proposed expansion work is on pause as Grameen America focuses on its existing locations. While recognizing that negative economic impacts are a new risk, this is mitigated by its relatively strong balance sheet.

Racial and Ethnic Injustice Response

Grameen America targets the most disadvantaged communities with the greatest barriers to economic independence and helps women entrepreneurs build their businesses by closing the extensive capital and capacity gaps that this demographic faces. Its 52,000+ members are 98% women of color, primarily identifying as Hispanic/Latina, and nearly 100% live at or below the federal poverty line. Most have no or poor credit scores and limited financial resources and education, and have struggled to grow their businesses and climb out of poverty prior to joining Grameen America’s program. Grameen America is also committed to continuing to serve Black women entrepreneurs; to best expand its program to this community in the U.S., Grameen America is conducting an external survey of Black women to learn about their needs, businesses and pain points, with the goal of identifying the unique challenges facing Black women that impact the efficacy of the Grameen America model.