Grameen Bank to open Indianapolis branch

Bangladesh-based Grameen Bank, which is known for providing microloans to the poor, plans to open a branch in Indianapolis this summer.

The Central Indiana Community Foundation and venture capitalist Tom Hiatt have led the effort to bring the bank to the city. A year ago, CICF hosted a meeting of potential donors and raised the $6 million needed to open a branch.

That includes multiyear grants of $500,000 from the Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF subsidiary, and the Glick Family Fund, as well as a one-time grant of $150,000 from the Efroymson Family Fund.

Grameen, which was founded by a Bangladeshi professor in 1976, has loaned $6.8 billion to 7.5 million borrowers, most of whom are women. The bank typically loans $1,500 or less to people who live below the poverty line, allowing them to kick-start tiny businesses.

The $6 million will help underwrite local startup costs and lending.

The bank will begin site-scouting in Indianapolis this month. Its other U.S. branches are in New York and Omaha, Neb.

Grameen is also planning to open branches in Charlotte, N.C., Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

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