Unlocking the Financial Power of Women Entrepreneurs

By Giving List Women   |   May 20, 2024
Grameen America members in Newark, New Jersey, gather in person to share business advice, support each other, and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs. (photo by Vera Rubtsova)

Grameen America offers a unique, proven solution to economic inequity in the United States, serving women entrepreneurs who are often the most disproportionately excluded from the mainstream financial system. The nonprofit microfinance organization started in New York, in 2008 and has since reached 200,000 entrepreneurial women with dreams of launching or growing a small business.

Grameen America helps women build their financial resilience and mobility, improve their credit identities, generate wealth for their families, and transform their communities through job creation and economic growth. They do this by offering access to affordable capital with first-time loans of up to $2,500, financial and health education, asset- and credit-building support, and peer networking. 

Grameen America’s Group-Lending Model 

“In the current global banking system, credit decisions are stacked against the most vulnerable populations,” says Rajitha Swaminathan, vice president of program strategy and member experience at Grameen America. “It is very difficult for lower-income groups, including women of color, with no prior credit history, documentation, and education standards, to secure credit.”

Grameen America does not require traditional collateral to join the program, but relies on a group-lending model that promotes group vetting, accountability, and trust. As a result, members in the program have a stellar 99% loan repayment rate.

Grameen America’s program demonstrates proven impact. In 2022, MDRC, a nonprofit research organization, published a 36-month impact assessment of the Grameen America model. The study showed “an increase in credit scores, business ownership, and business earnings and a reduction of material hardship.”

The organization continuously enhances its wrap-around services to meet members’ needs through credit establishment, long-term asset-building, business education, and digital technology.

Supporting Women Like Lissette 

Lissette was working as an esthetician in The Bronx when she realized that she was hugely underpaid compared to other colleagues. Lissette’s lifelong passion for beauty and skincare fueled her dream of starting her own spa business. 

With microloan and peer networking support from Grameen America, she  became a proud entrepreneur and owner of her first retail beauty and spa store, Bella Shique.

“Our relationship with women is not just about finances,” says Swaminathan. “We make sure that they harness a feeling of ownership so that they are able to take control of their lives.”

The Numbers Tell the Story

“Mainstream financial banks in the U.S. serve high-net-worth individuals with million-dollar mortgages, but the marginalized women that Grameen America serves are not their target audience,” says Swaminathan. “The numbers tell the story. Grameen America has created over 200,000 jobs and disbursed over 1 million loans worth over $4 billion.”

Through a combination of philanthropic support, loan investment, and revenue generation, Grameen America’s goal is to cumulatively invest $40 billion in 750,000 women over the next 10 years.

Grameen America’s trailblazing work means more and more underserved women have access to fair and affordable financial services, creating a ripple effect on their businesses, families, and communities.


Grameen America, Inc.

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Development and Marketing: Vice President: Jill Monum


Grameen America is dedicated to helping low-income women entrepreneurs build small businesses.

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