Grameen Bank, the institution that launched social enterprise as we know it, is augmenting its American programs with operations in Los Angeles. The first American division opened in Queens, New York this spring. Isabel Maxwell heads the Los Angeles office.
Grameen America, Like Grameen Bank, is a microcredit lender, providing poor individuals–primarily women–small loans that they use to launch businesses and elevate their families from poverty. Muhammad Yunus (pictured at left at the opening of the Queens branch) started Grameen in Bangladesh 30 years ago. Its reach has since exceeded 100 million families and sired the Internet micro-lending phenomenon Kiva.
Here’s the part where I confront my (American) elitism and admit that I didn’t view Americans as obvious recipients of microfinancing. At first blush I thought Grameen had come to Los Angeles for the usual biz dev and fundraising circuit.
I’m now reminded that nascent entrepreneurs live in all grids of the globe and that there is no objective scale to measure the boundless and border-less potential of a starter loan.
It may be a small shift in thought, but like Yunus’ other small shifts in thought, this one has infinite impact.