Left to right: Seema Gohil, Grameen America, Inc.; Leslie Kane, Grameen America, Inc.; Katy Brodsky, Grameen America, Inc.; Steven Vogel, Grameen America, Inc.; Kenneth J. Knuckles, President & CEO, UMEZ; Hope Knight, COO, UMEZ; and Latoya Cowan, Business Investments Loan Officer, UMEZ.



Umez teams with grameen America to give micro-loans to

local entrepreneurs in Upper manhattan



Today, Kenneth J. Knuckles, President & CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corp. (UMEZ) announced that the organization had closed on a $500,000 loan and a $125,000 grant to Grameen America, Inc.


Grameen America, Inc., a non-profit microfinance organization based in New York, was founded in 2008 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. Its mission is to help alleviate poverty through entrepreneurship by providing loans, saving programs, credit establishment and other services to low-income individuals in the United States.  All loans support small business activities including food carts, at-home catering businesses or salon services.


            The UMEZ loan and grant will be used to expand Grameen’s lending platform throughout Upper Manhattan. Grameen America currently has a branch in northern Manhattan which disbursed its first loan in March 2009.  This branch has grown to nearly 400 borrowers with a growth strategy to increase to over 4,000 borrowers over the next 5 years.  Grameen America’s microloans have a maximum first-time loan size of $1,500. 


“For nearly fifteen years, UMEZ has been lending much-needed financial and other assistance to new and existing small businesses Upper Manhattan which we believe are the backbone of our city’s neighborhoods,” said Mr. Knuckles. “That’s why we are pleased to provide this funding to Grameen America which shares our goal of providing loans to those businesses which are too often considered ‘unbankable’ by many of the traditional commercial banks.” 


Stephen Vogel, CEO of Grameen America said, “We are grateful to have UMEZ as one of our funders in Upper Manhattan.  UMEZ’s support will help Grameen America provide this much needed capital and financial education to aspiring entrepreneurs to start their own business and create a better life for their families.”



UMEZ seeks to revitalize distressed communities by using geographically targeted public funds and tax incentives as catalysts for private investment. In Upper Manhattan, the communities that lie within the Empowerment Zone's borders include Harlem, East Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood.


Grameen America's mission is to provide affordable microloans to financially empower low-income entrepreneurs.  Since January 2008, Grameen America has loaned out over $11 million dollars in microloans to 4,500 low-income entrepreneurs.  Started in Jackson Heights, Queens, Grameen America has quickly expanded to Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Omaha, Nebraska.  Our vision is to help create a world free of poverty.  We predict a market where any individual with a dream can receive affordable financial products regardless of income, previous credit history, education, or business experience.  We envision a world where burgeoning entrepreneurs are empowered to lift themselves out of poverty through hard work and determination to forge better lives for their families and future generations. (www.grameenamerica.org)



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March 2014
Win8 logo
UMEZ upgrades to Microsoft Windows 8.1
Biennial Report 2011-2012
Biennial cover pg 2011-2012
Biennial Report 2011-2012
Nov 6, 2012
June 26, 2012
Career Opportunities in Healthcare Program
Jul. 25, 2012: BRISC loan recipient, Jado Wine Bar & Sushi opens in Harlem
Jul. 25, 2012: Jado Sushi

October 17, 2011
October 17, 2011
Dec. 15, 2010
Dec. 15, 2010
Dance Theatre of Harlem receives UMEZ grant
Dec. 14, 2010
Dec. 15, 2010
Verdery Roosevelt appointed Senior Vice President
November 22, 2010
November 22, 2010
Award-winning master stylist Maisha Teacher opens Bibi Salon
November 10, 2010
November 10, 2010
Harlem Vintage receives BRISC loan
November 9, 2010
November 9, 2010
Hope Community receives grant
September 27, 2010
September 27, 2010
UMEZ teams with Grameen America
July 22, 2010
Ken Grand Opening
Grand Opening of East River Plaza
April 16, 2010
April 16, 2010
Morris-Jumel Mansion receives grant
March 15, 2010
March 15, 2010
Acelero Learning, Inc. receives BRISC loan
March 5, 2010
b yet
Best Yet Market opens in Harlem
Jan. 20, 2010
Jan. 20, 2010
Gemini II Specialty Boutique receives retail incentive loan
Dec. 13, 2009
Island Salad Opening
Island Salad receives BRISC loan
Sept. 30, 2009
Sept. 30, 2009
Caribbean Cultural Center receives UMEZ grant
Aug. 18, 2009
Patane Press receives retail incentive loan
Jun. 16, 2009
Harlem Masters
Harlem Masters receives forgivable loan
Mar. 17,2009
Mar. 17,2009
Watkins Health Foods receives forgivable loan
Feb. 2, 2009
Pollen Nation
Pollen Nation receives BRISC loan
Jan. 28, 2009
Jazzmobile check
UMEZ underwrites Jazzmobile's future
Jan. 13, 2009
Island Salad Check
Island Salad receives BRISC loan
Nov. 3, 2008
Nov. 3, 2008
UMEZ provides funding for new health care careers initiative
East Harlem Cafe celebrates grand opening.
Aug. 26, 2008
Dagaz check
BRISC loan is a custom fit for Dagaz
Jun.26, 2008
Taller Boricua receives UMEZ grant
Jun. 24, 2008
Manhattan Neighborhood Network awarded UMEZ grant
Jun. 11, 2008
Jun. 11
Empowerment Zone awards $150,000 grant to Opus 118
May 30, 2008
Hope Co mmunity pic
UMEZ grant for Hope Community, Inc
Apr. 7, 2008
Apr. 15
Studio Museum receives multi-year grant
Mar. 14, 2008
Plum Pomidor Restaurant awarded BRISC loan
Mar. 13, 2008
Mar. 25
BRISC loan helps Citicare move to new location & purchase equipment
Feb.13, 2008
Alianza Dominicana breaks ground for new headquarters
Feb.12, 2008
Fishers of Men II Reels in BRISC Loan

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