Grameen America supports thriving female owned small businesses

Community development investing |

Praxis finances solutions to combat predatory lenders

Grameen America is a nonprofit microfinance organization that was founded by Nobel peace prize recipient Mohammad Yunus and is dedicated to helping women who live in poverty build small businesses to create better lives for their families. The organization offers microloans, training and support to transform communities and fight poverty in the United States. Since opening in January 2008, Grameen America has invested over $3.87 billion in more than 188,000 low-income women entrepreneurs across the United States. 

Grameen stacked on top of America with illustration of a house to the left

Where loan sharks prey on the vulnerable by charging exceedingly high interest rates, Grameen America provides microloans to those living below the poverty line to start or expand their businesses. They do this by offering a fair interest rate with reasonable terms and supports the microloan with no-fee savings accounts, credit building and financial training.

Impact story
Relishing the opportunity

Fifteen years ago, Matilde was struggling to support her five children through her small shoe-shining business. The bulk of her financial issues related to loans she took from payday lenders. Due to their high interest rates, she saw little of her shop’s profits herself and was under considerable stress.

In order to make ends meet, Matilde started selling homemade quesadillas from a stall outside her store. The high demand for her food spurred Matilde to refocus her shoe business towards opening a restaurant.

Woman standing in front of her restaurant

Photo credit: Grameen America

After a friend introduced Matilde to Grameen America, she used her first loan of $1,500 to invest in setting up her restaurant. Without the burden of payday loans, Matilde was able to increase her income by 80%, and she was no longer impacted by the stress of paying back high interest loans.

Matilde relishes the opportunity to connect with other business owners at weekly meetings. Now on her thirteenth loan, Matilde recently invested in three refrigerators, a grill, and a van to service catering events.

Matilde believes that Grameen America has given her the head start she needed to transform her life. She is building her savings through the support of the program and hopes to inspire her children to join her business one day.

The Praxis commitment
Praxis Mutual Funds supports organizations through investments in Calvert Impact, an impact-investing institution that helps people around the world through community development financing. It’s part of the Praxis commitment to place approximately 1% of each of its funds to benefit neighborhoods and individuals through community development investments.