Global icon Jennifer Lopez and Grameen America, the nation’s fastest-growing microfinance nonprofit organization, recently announced that they are partnering to advance financial empowerment for Latina entrepreneurs who have historically been excluded from the financial mainstream.
As a national ambassador for the organization, Jennifer Lopez will help mentor Latinas across the country in their network of more than 150,000 women-run small businesses.
The two are partnering to further Lopez’s philanthropic project, Limitless Labs, which aims to uplift, educate and provide essential resources to underserved communities like the one in The Bronx where Lopez grew up. Additional areas of focus include youth empowerment, civic engagement, and empowering women with the confidence to live limitlessly. Through their collaborative efforts both organizations aim to provide 600,000 Latina entrepreneurs with $14 billion in loan capital and 6 million hours of financial literacy education by 2030.
The partnership will build “pathways to employment and leadership opportunities” and create “equity, inclusivity and opportunity” for Latinas, Lopez said in a statement.
To kick off her role as National Ambassador, Lopez will motivate, promote, and inspire Latina entrepreneurs, helping them understand the pathway to financial independence and literacy through joining the Grameen America microloan program. Lopez will mentor the organization’s existing Latina business owners, educating them on the importance of credit and asset-building and developing a savings program to promote financial resilience. The partnership will also enhance Grameen America’s financial education and training platform, prioritizing digital and multimedia resources to promote financial literacy.
“Being Latino in this country has always been a matter of pride for me. I am humbled and beyond grateful to partner with Grameen America. We’re building pathways to employment and leadership opportunities. There’s so much strength in this community and we’re harnessing that. This partnership will create equality, inclusivity and opportunity for Latina women in business,” said Lopez, Founder of Limitless Labs and National Ambassador for Grameen America, in a press release.
“Jennifer Lopez is a trailblazer, having given visibility and advocacy to ensure Latina women are educated, financially empowered, and healthy,” said Andrea Jung, President & CEO of Grameen America. “Grameen America is the only organization with the national scale, reach, and proven model required to deploy $14 billion in loan capital to emerging businesswomen in Latinx communities. Together we will shape entrepreneurship as a viable pathway to success for Latina women who have historically lacked access to the formal financial markets and are often marginalized from economic opportunity.”
Despite gaps in opportunity, Latina entrepreneurs represent the fastest-growing, yet untapped, segment of U.S. small business owners. In the past 10 years, the number of Latino-owned small businesses has grown 44% compared to just 4% for non-Latinos, according to a recent report by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative. The same report notes Latino-owned businesses are significantly less likely than white-owned businesses to receive loans from national banks, despite demonstrating strong lending criteria. For women, financial exclusion is disproportionately higher as only 4% of all small business loans from mainstream financial institutions go to women, according to a report by the National Women’s Business Council.
“Especially now with social media, for the entrepreneur and businessperson of today, there’s a different idea about how and what success is and how you do things. It feels like the only thing holding the Latino community back…is financial literacy and access to capital,” Lopez told Forbes.
To learn more about Grameen America, see here.
Founded by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus, Grameen America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit microfinance organization dedicated to helping women who live in poverty build small businesses to create better lives for their families. The organization offers microloans, training, and support to transform communities and fight poverty in the United States. Since opening in January 2008, Grameen America has invested over $2.4 billion in more than 150,000 low-income women entrepreneurs.