Just One More Thing on Microfinance in the U.S.

February 7, 2010 § 5 Comments

I am “pulling a Columbo” here … there’s just one more thing I want to mention regarding the emergence of microfinance in the United States.

After my last post, blogger Emily Shenk wrote to ask if I’d heard about the documentary that was just shown at the Sundance Film Festival on this exact subject, “To Catch a Dollar: Mohammed Yunus Banks on America.”  I had not.  In the film, Director/Producer Gayle Ferraro captures the efforts of the first Grameen America office in Jackson Heights, Queens, and “follows the journey of two of these women borrowers and the changes their lives undergo over the course of a year. Working with borrowed money for the first time, they begin to realize their own potential and the power that comes with it.”

Ms. Ferraro knows her subject: her first documentary, Sixteen Decisions, was released in 2000 and focused on a Grameen borrower in Bangladesh, where Grameen was founded by Mohammed Yunus in 1976.  And she is aware of the challenges and opportunities of bringing program to a new location.  After attending a Sundance screening of the film, writer Emily Goligoski posted on The Huffington Post, “[T]he Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist said he is eager for a time when people don’t have to consider taking work that’s either in pursuit of profit-making or social aims only.  His bank has managed to focus on the latter while expanding, but its introduction to the United States hasn’t been a seamless one.”

Kudos to Gayle Ferraro for conceiving of such a film, and to The Skoll Foundation, The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, and Impact Partners for financing this important project.  Here’s hoping that To Catch a Dollar finds a distribution deal and a wider audience.  I, for one, can’t wait to see it.

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§ 5 Responses to Just One More Thing on Microfinance in the U.S.

  • eshenk says:

    Thanks for covering this, Katherine! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the film.

  • […] States.”  As mentioned above, they use their founder’s group lending model.  See my post regarding the new documentary, To Catch a Dollar: Mohammed Yunus Banks on America, which had its […]

  • markaz18 says:

    thanks for posting this. i too was surprised when i first heard about grameen bank entering the USA. i thought, there isn’t a lot of poverty there, so why setup a microfinance bank? But like any other country, there are millions of people (around 15 mln) who don’t have access to traditional banking services.

  • scott says:

    Some good posts on microfinance in the U.S.! Given the interest in food and finance to change the world you might consider checking into the emerging Slow Money movement, where Slow Food meets Venture Capital. Microfinance could be the seed capital to get thousands of food microenterprises going, but what is missing is patient risk capital to take some of those businesses to scale. See http://www.slowmoneyalliance.org and our own Austin chapter at http://www.slowmoneyaustin.org.

    • Katherine says:

      Hi Scott: Thanks so much for bringing the Slow Money movement to my attention. I do have an interest good, healthy, not to mention delicious, food and am a believer in buying local whenever possible. I am going to research this further. Also, I love what you’re doing your rockroom winemaking cooperative. Cheers, Katherine

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