A not-for-profit that gives microloans to low-income entrepreneurs has now set up shop in Charlotte. Grameen America is in only half a dozen cities in the United States.
When Gladys Rivera walks down Central Avenue and sees the restaurants that line the way, she is inspired. Right now, she makes Honduran food out of her home. She told Eyewitness News on Friday that she is one step closer to fulfilling a dream of calling a restaurant her own.
"If we start this business, it's not only for me. The family is coming with and the family is successful, too," she told Eyewitness News through a translator.
Rivera and three other small-business owners received a loan from Grameen America to expand. In six months, if she repays on time and is using the money to improve her business, WSOC is told she can apply for more.
Joe Mynatt works for Wells Fargo but says as a private citizen, he and a handful of others started working three years ago to encourage Grameen to come to Charlotte.
"People need a hand up, so for those who want to work and help themselves out of their own circumstances, this is a great way to go about doing that," Mynatt said.
He says that group worked to raise $2.5 million.
Rivera says Friday was a day full of emotion because she feels that for the first time, she can take things into her own hands.
The local branch of the organization is headquartered in the International Center on Central Avenue. Mynatt says that in three to four years, it will be self-sufficient. The interest people pay on the loans will go toward funding other loans.