With every day in America bringing news of regressive political changes that will negatively impact women, it’s important for those who want to increase gender equality to explore different strategies for reaching women who need resources. One strategy that recently caught my eye was Grameen America’s announcement that, in celebration of its 10-year anniversary in the U.S., it would enter the fray of impact investing and disburse an added $11 million in capital in microloans to low-income women across the country. With this new fund, over a five-year period, Grameen will make $140 million in loans to low-income women who are struggling to get a foothold in the U.S. economy as entrepreneurs.
In the wake of the Great Recession of 2008, many low-income women have been essentially locked out of the market for affordable financial products. These women are often excluded from traditional bank loans because of low or no credit, or they are gouged with usurious interest rates by predatory lenders. Microfinance, the loaning of small amounts (under $50,000) to borrowers with low or no credit, offers a nonprofit solution to this problem.
Grameen America is the fastest growing microfinance organization in the U.S., and its model of lending to low-income women can have profound impacts on individual lives. But ultimately, the growing popularity of microfinance in America may be another indicator of the increasingly unstable financial picture for many American families, who can’t get credit, and are patching together an income between part-time jobs, personal enterprises, and small loans.
Read the full article about growing women’s financial power by Kiersten Marek at Philanthropy Women.
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