York College Students Connect With Grameen Bank Affiliate

Grameen America started its operations in November of 2007 and has already distributed $1.2 million to more than 500 borrowers in Queens, NY. In the last few months Grameen America’s success story has been featured by ABC, CNN, CNBC, BBC and the NY Times.

Two York College students, Thelma Suarez Ortega and Katherine Vidal, have been selected for internship opportunity at Grameen America.  Grameen America is a microfinance organization whose goal is to alleviate poverty through entrepreneurship.  Grameen offers loans, savings programs, and other financial services to its clients in the United States.  This organization is an affiliate of the renowned microfinance institute Grameen Bank, whose founder, Nobel-Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus, had visited York last year.

Thelma and Katherine started their internships at the Grameen America office in Jackson Heights (Queens) in January 2009.  The internship program is coordinated by Dr. Rahnuma Ahsan of York’s Department of Accounting and Business and Mr. Shah Newaz, Grameen America’s Senior Vice President and General Manager.  Grameen America has offered Thelma and Katherine full time positions after their graduation.
In Thelma’s words, “This internship is a wonderful and exciting opportunity.  It is an honor to work with people who help unfortunate and poor people to improve their lives.  After borrowing from Grameen, these entrepreneurs can invest in their own small businesses and ultimately be financially self-sufficient.  Also, this experience has allowed me to explore areas in which I did not have experience before – such as customer service, sales and marketing.”  

As Katherine points out, “At Grameen America I have discovered opportunities that I never thought existed.  I was introduced to microfinance when I was offered an internship at Grameen America.  During my internship at Grameen, I worked with poor women with dreams and desires of utilizing their entrepreneurial skills to better themselves. I helped them go through the process of receiving their loans, trained them and gave them a layout of Grameen’s program.  Witnessing their excitement is a beautiful experience for me because I know I’ve made a positive impact on their lives.  I am grateful for this opportunity and I am currently in the process of expanding this program to Brooklyn, so that the unbanked in that borough will be banked.”

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