Since applying for a federal credit union charter in February, micro-lending bank Grameen America continues to make connections in North Carolina on serving poor people neglected by mainstream financial institutions.
Grameen America President Vidar Jorgensen said the bank is making progress through its fundraising efforts for a branch that could potentially serve the areas of Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville and Charlotte. The credit union's field of membership would be low-income people and people who live below the poverty level. He anticipates it could take up to a year to open.
"It's like corn. It's growing higher," said Jorgensen of the support building in North Carolina.
Earlier this year, Jorgensen and Grameen Bank founder and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muham-mad Yunus met with State Employees' Credit Union, Self-Help Federal Credit Union and the North Carolina Bankers Association to discuss setting up a credit union.
Grameen Bank, which started in Bangladesh in 1983, provides loans, sav-ings programs, credit establishment and other finan-cial services to the working poor. Grameen America, its New York-based affiliate, launched in January 2008. In May, the micro-lending bank opened another branch in Omaha, Neb.
Jorgensen attended NAFCU's recent annual conference in Maryland and WOCCU's international gathering in July in Barcelona.
"Here you have large groups of people who are clearly for the mission of expanding access to the underserved. That's what Grameen is about," Jor-gensen said.