Silicon Valley Bank Funds Microlender Grameen America's Entry Into the Bay Area

Company news  |  January 6, 2010

First Commitment of $1 Million Will Fund Loans for Local Entrepreneurs Living Below the Poverty Line

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — January 6, 2010 — Silicon Valley Bank, the premier lender to entrepreneurs and one of the top corporate philanthropists in the California Bay Area, committed $1 million in debt financing over the next three years to Grameen America ( Grameen America is a not-for-profit microfinance organization that makes small loans to entrepreneurs living below the poverty line so they may start a business and begin to improve their financial situations.

The Grameen Bank was founded by Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh in 1976. Yunus gained recognition worldwide when he and the Grameen Bank jointly received the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Grameen America launched in the U.S. in New York in 2008 with a mission to alleviate poverty and spur entrepreneurship by providing small loans, savings programs, credit establishment, and financial education to people living below the poverty line in the United States. Today, Grameen America has more than 1,800 borrowers and expects to bring its unique model of microlending to the Bay Area in 2010. The organization is seeking additional grants, loans and funding from local banks, foundations, and individuals in addition to its first institutional commitment from Silicon Valley Bank.

"Silicon Valley Bank has been dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed since we began in the Bay Area 26 years ago. Our partnership with Grameen is a perfect extension of our strategy combined with our desire to take an active role in improving our community," said Harry Kellogg, vice chairman of Silicon Valley Bank. "We are honored to be able to help Grameen expand into Northern California and we encourage others to find ways to get involved as well."

"We're thankful to have Silicon Valley Bank as our first financial partner in the Bay Area. Their expertise, community-mindedness and strong local network will be extremely valuable as we bring our lending model to local people so they may begin to establish financial independence," said Stephen Vogel, CEO of Grameen America.

Grameen America offers small loans to individuals who fall below the federal poverty line to start or expand a small business. In addition to making weekly loan payments including interest, Grameen America's borrowers are required to set aside a small amount each week in savings. Grameen America's repayment rate is consistently very high at over 99 percent.

Silicon Valley Bank's Community Development Finance group has committed $1 million in financing for Grameen America's Bay Area expansion. As part of SVB's Community Reinvestment Act Program, the company's Community Development Finance (CDF) group aims to positively impact the communities in which it operates.

About Silicon Valley Bank's Community Development Finance Group
SVB's CDF group, which is devoted primarily to affordable housing projects in Northern California, was formed in June 2002 and provides real estate developers with financing for multi-family and single family affordable housing projects in the Bay Area counties of Alameda, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sonoma. Since 2002, the SVB Community Development practice has made loans in excess of $360 million, which have aided the construction of more than 2,000 affordable housing units throughout Northern California. SVB's Community Development Finance team targets projects where tenants earn between 30 and 60 percent of the area�s median income. For more information about Silicon Valley Bank's Community Development Finance efforts, please visit

About Silicon Valley Bank
Silicon Valley Bank provides commercial banking services to emerging growth and mature companies in the technology, life science, private equity and premium wine industries. Through its focus on specialized markets and extensive knowledge of the people and business issues driving them, Silicon Valley Bank provides a level of service and partnership that measurably impacts its clients' success. Founded in 1983 and headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., the company serves clients around the world through 27 U.S. offices and five international operations. Silicon Valley Bank is a member of global financial services firm SVB Financial Group (Nasdaq: SIVB), along with SVB Analytics, SVB Capital, SVB Global and SVB Private Client Services. More information on the company can be found at

About Grameen America
Grameen America is a not-for-profit microfinance institution whose mission is to alleviate poverty through entrepreneurship by offering loans, savings programs, credit establishment, and financial education to the working poor in the United States. The organization is based in New York and was founded by Muhammad Yunus, who gained recognition worldwide when he and the Grameen Bank jointly received the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for their innovative efforts to alleviate poverty in Bangladesh. The concept of Grameen microcredit began when Muhammad Yunus loaned $27 dollars out of his own pocket to forty-two impoverished Bangladeshi villagers in 1976. Muhammad Yunus serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Grameen America. 

Banking services are provided by Silicon Valley Bank, a member of the FDIC and the Federal Reserve System. SVB Financial Group is also a member of the Federal Reserve System. Silicon Valley Bank Equal Housing Lender.