To Catch A Dollar: Poor Women, Small Business And a Chance to Succeed in America

Monday, March 28, 2011

Patricia, a Guyanese immigrant living in Queens, N.Y., had long dreamed of running her own business. An avid baker, she hoped to open a shop where she could sell the cakes and pastries she made on a smaller scale in her spare time.

But she lacked the seed money to afford the necessary supplies. And without savings or collateral, she certainly didn’t qualify for a loan.

Determined to make her vision a reality, Patricia connected with a local branch of Grameen America, an organization that provides small loans to low-income entrepreneurs. With her first check, she bought a key ingredient for her business plan.

“My dream was to get me this big mixer,” she said later, beaming. “And I couldn’t believe it when I got a check from Grameen that day. I was like, I got my mixer!” She has since used loans from Grameen to grow her bakery into its own storefront, where she sells cakes and Guyanese food.

Patricia’s story is chronicled in To Catch a Dollar, a documentary opening at the end of the month that follows industrious women on their quest to pull themselves out of poverty with the help of Grameen America, an arm of Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus’ iconic microcredit bank. The film explores Grameen’s efforts to empower struggling women by providing them means to establish their own businesses.

Often unemployed single mothers living in tiny apartments and struggling to feed their children, the women Grameen works with are otherwise “unbanked,” completely shut out of America’s mainstream financial system. They can’t apply for a loan because they have no assets to their name, let alone the means to pay off interest.

What these women lack in resources, they make up for in drive. Each profile subject in To Catch a Dollar talks excitedly about her goals, her dedication to her work, her determination to make a better life for herself and her family. Her business gives her something to be proud of, and more importantly, it pays off.

Source: The Huffington Post (link opens in a new window)