The impact of a $1,500 Grameen America microloan can often change a woman’s life much further beyond her business. Take Susana. When Susana came to the United States from Mexico City in 1996, she started out by renting a single chair in a hair salon and offering hair services to women in the community. As her reputation as a dependable hair stylist caught on, customers started to increase.
After a few years, she decided it was time to open her own salon. At first, she made her business purchases on credit cards that charged her 30% interest. To make matters worse, after a few months into her new salon, she learned that her landlord had misrepresented zoning regulations for the building and she was required to find a new location. Around that time, Susana heard about Grameen America through a friend and took out her first loan of $1,500 in 2011.
She used that first loan to enhance her new salon location in Queens. She replaced the floors and installed an awning to attract new clients. With her additional loans, she added a manicure and pedicure station, designed business cards, and even launched a website.
However, Susana’s business is not the only part of her life that has drastically improved. With the success of her business, she was able to move into a small apartment across the street from her salon.
Today, Susana is on her eleventh business loan with Grameen America. Her goal over the next two years is to open a bigger salon on the busier Roosevelt Avenue. "I'm 37 years old, and now I can say I have my dream," Susana says, "I have my family and my house and the business – I have everything."
Photos by Daniel Martinez