Representatives from Grameen America were scheduled to meet with business and academic leaders on Feb.25 to discuss the next phase of opening a branch of the microlending bank in Fayetteville, N.C.Grameen America delivers small loans to low-income entrepreneurs who want to start or expand their businesses. The Queens, N.Y.-based bank met with North Carolina credit unions, banks, trade groups and regulators in early February to glean interest on opening a branch in the state. (CU Times, Feb. 18, 2009). Officials from the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce and the Fayetteville State University Center for Entrepreneurship were scheduled to meet with Grameen America President Vidar Jorgensen last week.Subject to board and regulatory approvals, these organizations will organize financial and other support that will be key to the creation of operations in Fayetteville, the bank said. Grameen America will begin lending services in Fayetteville once that support is final.“There are plenty of qualified, low-income borrowers with promising business endeavors. The basis for solid economic growth is apparent and ready to be developed throughout North Carolina,” Jorgensen said. “We are seeing interest in funding for Grameen operations in California, Nebraska, Arkansas, North Carolina and other states. Grameen will expand to where there is support.”Jorgensen felt North Carolina is ideal as the next state for Grameen America.“With its great universities, the Research Triangle Park, the commercial banking leadership, and leadership from the State Employees Credit Union and Self Help, North Carolina can be a national and world leader in enabling lower income people to use small microfinance loans to become entrepreneurs and improve their lives.”Mohammad Bhuiyan, a professor at Fayetteville State University’s school of business and economics, concurred.“A Grameen America branch in Fayetteville will not just increase opportunities for income producing, entrepreneurial activities among lower income citizens of the area, it will provide valuable, working educational and training opportunities for FSU students.”Since its launch in January 2008, Grameen America has lent over $1.2 million and 99.5% of the loans have been repaid on time, according to the bank. The financial institution is a subsidiary of Grameen Bank, a microlending organization founded in 1983 by professor and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.–[email protected]

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