SAN FRANCISCO - May 3, 2010
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) and Grameen America today announced a $1 million equity-equivalent (EQ2) investment by Wells Fargo in Grameen America, a non-profit microfinance organization located in the U.S. EQ2s are a limited below market rate loan reserved for community development organizations that have a growing business relationship with Wells Fargo. In the past five years, Wells Fargo has provided more than $92 million in EQ2 financing to the communities it serves.
Wells Fargo’s EQ2 investment will help Grameen America launch its operations in the San Francisco Bay Area beginning this summer. Branch Managers from Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, with over 25 years of experience, will relocate to San Francisco to open and manage branch operations. Grameen America currently has three branches in New York City and a fourth in Omaha, Neb. Additional expansion plans include Charlotte, Boston, and Washington, D.C.
“At Wells Fargo, we are committed to serving the needs of our community,” said Sarah Bennett, vice president and investment manager at Wells Fargo. “We are delighted about the potential impact Grameen America will have for entrepreneurs in our communities, including in the Bay Area, and we look forward to supporting them by providing affordable access to capital to individuals with lower-incomes.”
“We at Grameen America are thankful to have Wells Fargo as one of our key financial partners as we expand to new markets,” said Stephen Vogel, CEO of Grameen America. “Wells Fargo’s strength and community-mindedness is extremely valuable as we bring our lending model to assist people living below the poverty level in underserved communities.”
Grameen America has provided over 2,600 loans to entrepreneurs living below the federal poverty line. They have loaned out over $5 million in loan capital and their borrowers have deposited savings accumulating over $350,000. The high repayment rate of over 99% is a testament to the program’s success. All loans are provided in the peer-lending model and each loan is spent on starting or expanding an existing business.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo’s Community Lending and Investment division provides debt and equity capital for economic development, job creation and affordable housing in areas of need nationwide. For more about Wells Fargo Community Lending and Investments visit: www.wellsfargo.com/communitylendingandinvestment
Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $1.2 trillion in assets, providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance through more than 10,000 stores and 12,000 ATMs and the Internet (wellsfargo.com) across North America and internationally. The Company promotes economic growth and self-sufficiency, education, social services, the arts and the environment in thousands of communities across North America. In 2009, the Company gave $202 million in grants to 18,000 nonprofits, and team members contributed more than 1.2 million volunteer hours around the country. For more about Wells Fargo’s achievements in Social Responsibility: www.wellsfargo.com/about/csr.
About Grameen America
Grameen America is a not-for-profit microfinance organization fighting poverty in the United States. Microfinance provides low-income people with small loans, savings accounts and financial education. By providing a “hand up” rather than a “hand out” Grameen America offers millions of Americans an economic opportunity to earn their way out of poverty. Professor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Muhammad Yunus founded the Grameen Bank in 1976 in Bangladesh to reverse the vicious circle of “low income, low savings and low investment.”