Grameen America, a leading nonprofit microfinance organization, today announced a collaboration with Citi and Mastercard to introduce a number of financial technology solutions that will greatly enhance the organization’s ability to promote digital financial access and inclusion for more than 86,000 low-income minority women entrepreneurs across the United States.
Chief among the new solutions supported by Citi and Mastercard is the deployment of a cloud-based Management Information System infrastructure designed to significantly modernize and bolster Grameen America’s operational capacity. These upgrades will allow Grameen America to standardize and streamline their back-office processes, enabling the organization to achieve greater efficiency, more easily scale its services across the country and roll out new services or features. The new system will also allow national field staff to enter real-time data remotely about member women entrepreneurs, enhancing their ability to capture and analyze the impact of Grameen America’s services.
“Solving the need for digital banking services among low-income communities in the United States is a pressing priority,” said Andrea Jung, President and CEO of Grameen America. “This collaboration represents a perfect marriage of the key players in technology and financial services coming together to empower women entrepreneurs through access to capital, credit- and asset-building services.”
Grameen America provides access to capital and credit-building services, as well as savings accounts provided by Citi for which the certain fees are waived, to women entrepreneurs across the United States who live at or below the federal poverty line. Prior to joining the program, the majority of members did not have bank accounts and had either negative or no credit history. These new technology upgrades will integrate low-income women entrepreneurs into the cashless economy, enabling them to make online purchases for their businesses, view financial transaction history in real-time and experience the benefits of digital banking.
“According to new data from the FDIC, more than 33 million households are either unbanked or underbanked, living without the ability to safely save and build financial security,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance. “These important technology upgrades will strengthen Grameen America’s infrastructure and expand their ability to bring more low-income women entrepreneurs into the financial mainstream.”
“Connecting people to the networks that power the modern world - like financial services - will unlock their economic potential and continue a cycle of equitable economic growth and poverty reduction,” said Shamina Singh, President of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. “Working with Grameen America, we are glad to join a partnership that will advance economic mobility through entrepreneurship in the United States.”
Also included in the new upgrades are reloadable disbursement Mastercard cards issued by Citi Prepaid Services (a division of Citi Holdings) that Grameen America will use to deliver microloans to its members instead of using bank checks, which can be costly and need to be cashed. The cards will provide Grameen America’s clientele of women entrepreneurs - many of whom were previously unbanked - with a fast and flexible way to access their funds instead of carrying large sums of cash.