Chevron to Provide $1 Million to Help Bring Grameen America to Bay Area
SAN RAMON, Calif., Jan. 21, 2011 – In an effort to support broad-based economic development in California, Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) has committed $1 million to Grameen America, an innovative microfinance organization founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus. The funds will support the launch of Grameen America's first West Coast branch in the San Francisco Bay Area by funding Grameen America's operational costs.
Grameen America anticipates helping as many as 250 local borrowers and distributing more than $300,000 in microloans the first year of operation through its Bay Area branch. Grameen America will target low-income clients who cannot access traditional credit. A significant portion of Grameen America's client base is low-income women. Grameen America has been successfully working in the United States since 2008. To date, they have funded 5,000 borrowers and lent out more than $13 million in microloans, averaging $1,500 each.
"The economic slowdown has made it especially difficult to secure funding for Bay Area small businesses and entrepreneurs, often a catalyst for job creation and economic growth for the state," said Stephen Vogel, CEO of Grameen America. "Chevron's support will help hundreds of entrepreneurs realize their dreams of starting their own businesses."
Microlending meets a unique need in the Bay Area, where unemployment numbers made the second largest year-over-year increase in the nation. The Bay Area unemployment rate hovers at approximately 10 percent.* Grameen America provides microloans to help aspiring entrepreneurs start or expand their small business, establish savings and develop credit by following the group lending and savings model that has been developed and refined over 30 years by the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Based on a peer-group system in which members encourage, support and learn from each other, the Grameen America model also incorporates asset building into all loan relationships so that members will build financial resources for the future.
"The success of our company is tied directly to the economic health of our community," said Rhonda Zygocki, vice president of policy, government and public affairs for Chevron. "We believe Grameen will help create economic opportunities for people that wouldn't exist otherwise."
Today's investment marks one of many that Chevron has made through the California Partnership, a Chevron initiative to invest in education and economic development in its home state. Through this initiative, Chevron has expanded and deepened its partnerships with more than 20 nonprofit organizations engaged in economic development and education around California. Since 2009, Chevron has committed $7 million each year through the California Partnership, increasing Chevron's overall investment in the state to approximately $28 million year-over-year. Chevron has also partnered with Kiva.org and the Opportunity Fund to help support entrepreneurs in California and around the world.
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
About Grameen America
Founded by Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Muhammad Yunus, Grameen America's mission is to provide affordable microloans to financially empower low-income entrepreneurs. Since January 2008, Grameen America has loaned out over $13 million dollars in microloans to 5,000 micro-entrepreneurs. The organization started in Jackson Heights, Queens, and has since opened locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Omaha, Nebraska. Through its group lending and savings model, borrowers encourage, support and learn from each other as they use entrepreneurship and self-employment to increase their wealth and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. More information about Grameen America is available at www.grameenamerica.org.
Chevron is one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. The company's success is driven by the ingenuity and commitment of its employees and their application of the most innovative technologies in the world. Chevron is involved in virtually every facet of the energy industry. The company explores for, produces and transports crude oil and natural gas; refines, markets and distributes transportation fuels and other energy products; manufactures and sells petrochemical products; generates power and produces geothermal energy; provides energy efficiency solutions; and develops the energy resources of the future, including biofuels. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif. More information about Chevron is available at www.chevron.com.
Updated: January 2011