By Manhattan Times,
NEW YORK - The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation (UMEZ), a nonprofit that revitalizes distressed communities through investment, has closed on a $500,000 loan and a $125,000 grant to micro lender Grameen America to help local business startups.
Grameen America, based in New York, was founded in 2008 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. Today, Yunus is regarded as the pioneer of the microcredit industry and continues to explore new possibilities in social business around the world.
The new funding continues the relationship between the two organizations which work together to establish a micro-lending platform throughout Upper Manhattan.
Since opening a branch in northern Manhattan in 2009, Grameen has loaned to over 400 local businesses, including salons, food carts, in-home bakeries, and clothing sellers who are too small to be considered bankable by most traditional commercial banks.
Grameen's model seeks to stimulate the local economy through entrepreneurship by providing loans, savings programs, and credit establishments to low-income individuals. To do so, individuals interested in applying for microloans must fall below the poverty line and find at least five other entrepreneurs in the community who have separate business ideas and need help with funding. This practice helps cultivate community ties and partnerships, encouraging business owners to work together rather than against each other.
"We are grateful to have UMEZ as one of our founders in upper Manhattan, their support will help Grameen America provide much needed capital and financial education to the aspiring entrepreneurs and create a better life for them," said Stephen Vogel, CEO of Grameen America.