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Capital One Bank to Fund Grameen America's Expansion to Washington,

April 19, 2010 at 10:02 AM EDT
Commitment of $1 million will fund loans for local entrepreneurs living below the poverty line

WASHINGTON, Apr 19, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) --Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE:COF) will extend a $1 million community development loan to Grameen America (, the U.S. affiliate of the globally renowned provider of microcredit to entrepreneurs living below the poverty line, in order to help fund and encourage others to support Grameen's entry into the Washington, D.C. area. The loan from Capital One Bank will go directly toward the funding of microloans for local entrepreneurs, enabling them to start or expand a business.

Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and founder of Grameen Bank, made the announcement at a preview screening of the 60-minute documentary "To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America," held at Georgetown University. The film, which premiered nationally at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in January, tells the story of Grameen Bank and the opening of the first Grameen America branch in Queens, New York. The screening was preceded by a V.I.P. reception to raise awareness and additional funding for Grameen's expansion to Washington, D.C.

"All over the world, Grameen has provided a leg up to entrepreneurs who lack access to suitable financing options, opening up a whole new world of possibilities not just for the individual borrowers, but for entire communities," said Dorothy Broadman, Managing Vice President for Community Development Banking at Capital One. "Ensuring that entrepreneurs and small businesses of all types and sizes have access to affordable financing is vitally important to the economic recovery and financial success of the community. Capital One is committed to investing in programs that build strong and healthy communities, working with partners to apply principles of innovation, collaboration and empowerment to affect positive change. The Grameen model - combining right-sized business loans with business mentorship and education - is inspiring. We are very proud to be a partner and hope to serve as a catalyst for others to get involved and support Grameen's expansion to the Washington area."

Grameen America launched 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 federal poverty line in the United States. Since its launch, Grameen America has disbursed more than $5 million in loans to more than 2,500 borrowers. 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 99 percent.

"Grameen America was created to help those in poverty and outside of the banking system take charge of their future through self-employment," said Stephen Vogel, Chief Executive Officer of Grameen America. "We are grateful to Capital One for recognizing the power of microfinance as an effective and sustainable solution in the fight against poverty and for investing in the entrepreneurial spirit of this community."

Started by Yunus in Bangladesh in 1983, Grameen provides small loans and other basic financial services based on the principle that lower-income and unbanked communities need suitable credit options to learn sound financial principles and achieve financial self-sufficiency. Through its group lending and savings model, borrowers encourage, support and learn from each other as they use entrepreneurship and self-employment to increase their wealth and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Since Grameen's founding, the bank has expanded its operations to 38 countries, and disbursed more than 6.75 billion dollars to over 7.5 million borrowers, 97% of whom are women.

For their work, Yunus and Grameen were awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Additionally, Yunus was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in August 2009.

About Capital One

Capital One Financial Corporation ( is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., had $115.8 billion in deposits and $212.0 billion in total managed assets outstanding as of December 31, 2009. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. Capital One, N.A. has approximately 1,000 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 100 index.

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.

SOURCE: Capital One Financial Corporation

Capital One Financial
Tatiana Stead, 703-720-2352
Grameen America
Katherine Rosenberg, 212-735-4023