Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus inaugurated two new branches at Long Beach and Fresno--a city 225 miles north of Los Angeles.
Long Beach branch is funded by East West Banks and Fresno branch is funded by the Bank of the West.
Dominic Ng, founder, Chairman, and CEO of East West Bank and Andrea Jung, CEO and President, Grameen America, and the senior executives of both banks attended the ribbon cutting ceremony on September 18th.
Fresno branch is funded by Bank of the West, a fully owned subsidiary of European banking giant BNP Paribas. The ribbon cutting ceremony took place with great fanfare on September 19, attended by Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, CEO, Nandita Bakshi of Bank of the West, a Bangladeshi born Indian American, Andrea Jung, CEO of Grameen America, along with senior executives of both banks, and distinguished women leaders and entrepreneurs of the city.
With the addition of these two new branches, Grameen America's branch total comes to 23. In its 11 years of operation starting from Jackson Heights, Queens, NY, it has invested a total of $1.26 billion to reach out to 120 ,000 borrowers, all low-income women of the USA, in 15 cities. All branches over 4 years of age are all financially self-sustaining. The repayment rate in Grameen America remains 99%.
Grameen America plans to reach 250,000 low-income women in the US and invest $ 4 billion in the next five years.
In the United States, women of all income levels receive just 4% of loan dollars and 1 in 4 U.S. households are either unbanked or under banked.
The Grameen America with addition of two new branches now has 6 branches in California. California has the highest poverty rate in the United States (as per the Census Bureau). Grameen America has over 22,000 borrowers and disbursed over $192.3 million in loans in California.
At the Long Beach branch opening, Mr. Dominic Ng, Chairman, President and CEO of East West Bank applauded Professor Yunus’s relentless vision towards poverty alleviation. East West Bank has contributed around $2M to assist in the operational set up of the branch. The Long Beach will be the third branch in Los Angeles after Boyle Heights and Pico Union.
At the Fresno branch opening, Bank of the West CEO Nandita Bakhshi congratulated the management regarding the success and collaboration with Grameen America. Fresno will be the first branch in the Central Valley. Bank of the West and BNP Paribas have contributed USD 500,000 towards the Fresno branch. Moreover, the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation has provided the office space to house this upcoming branch.
Bank of West announced an expanded partnership with Grameen America investing USD 2 million to support the institutional goals. With an estimated 76,000 women in Fresno living in poverty this new branch will impact the community in providing women with the necessary resources to support their financial growth. Grameen America’s goal is to serve 500 women in its first year, disbursing USD 727,000 in microloans to low income female entrepreneurs. By the fifth year the target is to serve 7,000 women with USD 21million in disbursed loans.
The Nobel Laureate later attended the 5th Annual Power of Women in Business Conference, hosted by the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation. Dora Westerland, CEO of the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation moderated a panel discussion with Andrea Jung, Nandita Bakhshi, CEO of Bank of the West, along with Professor Yunus. Mayor Lee Brand, Mayor of the City of Fresno, who attended the conference, congratulated Professor Yunus for bringing Grameen America to his city. He committed has total support to the programme and wanted to have more branches in his city which is populated by poor farm laborers.
This women conference brought together an audience of 500 women entrepreneurs, in the Central Valley area, specifically highlighting women of color business-owners in the region.
BDST: 1914 HRS, SEP 23, 2019