Microlender Grameen America is upping its game in impact investing.
The U.S.-based microfinance organization marked its ten-year anniversary last month by announcing a new $11 million impact investing fund, the first in what it said will be a series of new funds. Called the Social Business Fund, it’s aimed at providing additional money to women entrepreneurs who have already worked with Grameen and expanding to more U.S. regions.
“This fund will help us move into new geographies, help our existing members build bigger businesses and help us become really national in scope,” says Grameen America President and CEO Andrea Jung (pictured above with borrowers).
The U.S. nonprofit has mostly been funded by traditional philanthropy and concessionary capital from foundations, charities, individuals and commercial lenders. The interest-paying impact fund gives Grameen’s donors an additional way—and incentive—to fund its ambitious growth plans. Grameen America hopes to achieve 100% sustainability and disburse up to $2 billion in loans to low-income women within the next five years.
From catering to cleaning
Launched a decade ago in the melting pot borough of Queens, New York, Grameen America is an offshoot of the venerable Bangladesh-based Grameen Bank, founded in the 1970s by Pulitzer-prize winner Muhammad Yunus to provide microloans to women living in poverty.
Now in 20 locations in 13 cities, the U.S. nonprofit has lent about $820 million to date to 98,000 low-income women operating businesses ranging from catering and restaurants to beauty salons and cleaning services. Grameen’s unique approach, which requires borrowers to form supportive peer groups that meet weekly, has contributed to an impressive 99% repayment rate.[…]
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