Can Microfinance Make It in America?

Grameen makes loans to tiny businesses in the developing world. With credit tight, now seems like the right time to reach the "unbanked" in the U.S. But money isn't everything

Boogie for TIME

A loan from Grameen America allows Altagracia Familia to buy ingredients for the empanadas and sweets she sells from her cart.

Emily Medina isn't running a pyramid scheme, despite what people often think. As the petite 26-year-old works her way through some of New York City's poorer neighborhoods, she approaches women selling food and trinkets on the street and offers to lend them money to grow their businesses. The organization Medina works for, Grameen, is one of the world's largest microfinance outfits and has a Nobel Prize to its name for this work. But in New York neighborhoods where loans to street vendors tend to come with interest rates north of 40%, it can take a while to build trust. "I didn't...

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