A Life Changed

October 6, 2009 | 1:05 PM

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A member's story on how a loan changed her life for the better.

It has been an exciting year at Grameen America. We’ve been growing steadily since opening our first branch in Queens in early 2008 – we have reached over 1,350 borrowers, expanded into new markets with many more on the way, and have lent more than $2.9 million in micro-loans with a repayment rate of 99%.

It’s been a year of accomplishments….but if you were to ask any of us what makes us the most proud, it’s hearing how our borrowers’ lives have changed for the better.

Just the other day, one of our members related to us the kind of experience that reminds us that the work we are doing is truly worthwhile.

A few months back, one of our members was at a store buying a cell phone for her daughter. Just as she was about to purchase a plan, she was told by the salesperson that starting a contract with the vendor would require a credit check. Her heart sank – for years, she had dealt with the hurdle of not having a credit score. And without a credit score, she wouldn’t be able to buy the plan she wanted for her daughter, even though she was now able to afford it.

As she listened to the salesperson rattle off the limited and expensive pre-paid options available to her, she thought back on her center meetings with Grameen America….didn’t the center manager say that her loan with Grameen would help her build a credit score? She meekly mentioned to the salesperson that she might have a credit score after all – could he please check? The salesperson checked for her – and not only did she have a credit score, the score was over 750.

It may seem like a small thing – the ability to buy a cell phone. But for our members, these seemingly small wins represent so much more…..a chance to participate in the same opportunities that many of us take for granted, a chance to pull oneself up through one’s own ingenuity, a chance to change one’s own life.

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