Getting a loan when the bank says no

March 12, 2009 10:02:51 PM PDT
Vivian Giullon says reasonable prices keeps her customers coming back. She opened her small store on National Street in Corona, Queens about four months ago. She sells clothes, purses and trinkets.

Last December, she wanted to invest in her business and her daughters' futures, but when she went to her local bank for a loan, she was turned down.

She heard through the grapevine about a local bank that would give her a chance. She got 2-thousand dollars.

Vivian is out here rain or shine. When she has trouble selling her hats and scarves, then she sells food. She does whatever it takes to keep her business running.

Grameen America is a non-profit microfinance organization. The group gives small loans, between 500 and 2-thousand dollars, to poor and largely immigrant women.

Jackson Heights general manager Shah Newaz says in just 13 months, the Queens branch has paid out 1.2 million dollars to more than 500 people.

"We encourage her today. You need a job tomorrow, you create other jobs. That is our objective. That's why we are working," Newaz said.

The model is working. The organization plans to stretch to Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan.

Here's how it works:

Borrowers like Vivian meet each week.

They make payments, talk about how their businesses ventures are going and, if needed, re-apply for new loans.

Their founder, Muhammad Yunus, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for the concept of giving out micro-loans. The company dispersed 7.4 billion dollars throughout much of the developing world.

"They're the ones out there in the cold, selling. We're just lending them the money," Emily Medina said.

The group hopes to help more entrepreneurs, especially women, build credit and defeat poverty.

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ON THE NET:

  • www.grameenamerica.com

  • www.muhammadyunus.com

  • ABC NEWS report on Grameen America
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