Agency provides loans to small businesses

by: Mark Becker Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Teresita Ambrosio opened the door to her north Charlotte apartment and greeted two women who have come to do some shopping.

They’re friends, but also customers and they are among many visitors Ambrosio has gotten since she started selling cosmetics out of her home and at flea markets.

When she wanted to expand her business, a friend suggested that she contact an agency called Grameen America that moved to Charlotte last December. Grameen America started offering micro loans to women with small businesses and Ambrosio says it was a great investment.

“If I don’t invest, I don’t grow,” Ambrosio said.

It’s the kind of success story Grameen has seen a lot of since they opened their office in an old school building on Central Avenue.

Like Ambrosio, most of their borrowers are women with small, home-based businesses like cleaning, sewing or baking.  The loans are small, from $500 to $2,500, but the demand has surprised everyone at Grameen.

“Charlotte has been an unbelievable market for Grameen America.  We're nearly at a thousand members in just under 12 months,” says Katherine Rosenberg, Grameen America’s executive vice president.

Rosenberg said Charlotte is the agency’s fastest growing branch, with almost 1,000 borrowers which is twice as many as they expected to have in their first year.

She says the growth is a reflection of Charlotte’s strong economy.

“Everyone knows that small business is the backbone of the economy,” Rosenberg said.

“These women are working real hard and they're showing that when you put the effort in a small loan can make a huge difference,” she said.

For more information, visit http://grameenamerica.org/