Press Release: Bank of the West Invests $2 Million into Expanded Partnership with Grameen America
Bank of the West today announced an expanded partnership with Grameen America, investing $2 million to support the microfinance organization’s goal to serve low-income women entrepreneurs in the United States. Using an initial grant of $500,000 from Bank of the West, Grameen America will open a new branch in Fresno, California to develop and grow women-owned businesses in the Central Valley Area. With an estimated 76,000 women in Fresno living in poverty (source: U.S. Census Bureau), this new branch will directly impact this community providing women with the resources necessary to support their financial growth.
“Bank of the West has a strong commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs in order to close the wealth gap and foster innovation for a stronger economy,” said Nandita Bakhshi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bank of the West. “By giving women in the Central Valley the tools, resources, and funding to achieve their financial goals, the new Grameen America branch in Fresno will help to amplify a community that has traditionally been known as a ‘lending desert’ for low-income entrepreneurs, especially women and Bank of the West is proud to support this important mission.”
Once open, Grameen America’s goal is to serve 500 women in its first year, disbursing $727,000 in microloans to low-income female entrepreneurs in Fresno. By year five, Grameen America aims to serve 7,000 women and cumulatively disburse $21 million in loans. The money will continue to re-circulate as women take out additional loans and pay them back, opening the doors for new entrepreneurs.
“Bank of the West has been instrumental to aiding our growth into Fresno and addressing our shared commitment to financial inclusion across the country,” said Andrea Jung, President and CEO of Grameen America. “We know that access to capital is critical for women and families for whom the mainstream financial system is out of reach. With a hand up, women can transform their lives to build businesses that lift their communities and create multigenerational change.”
Grameen America’s branch in Fresno will mark the organization’s 23rd branch in the United States and its 15th city. The opening of the Fresno Grameen America branch and additional $1.5 million equity investment from Bank of the West will help Grameen America to scale its operations nationally, building on existing partnerships in New York, the Bay Area, and Los Angeles.
Photo courtesy of Amy Hirschi.