Puerto Rico residents and Act 20/22 decree investors Toby Neugebauer and Charlie Hamilton announced a long-term partnership with microfinance organization Grameen America to support women entrepreneurs on the island.
Under the terms of the partnership, the investors will fund a loan portfolio making available more than $16 million in low-interest microloans ranging from $500 to $5,000 to low-income, minority women business owners in Puerto Rico over the next five years.
“We wanted a proven model, and Grameen’s track record of providing ‘handups’ instead of ‘handouts’ that has worked all over the globe, and especially in Puerto Rico,” said Neugebauer
“In the wake of Hurricane Maria’s massive destruction, we need to get our island home back on its feet. As I’ve said before, Act 20/22 decree holders have a moral imperative to help Puerto Rico,” he said.
Acts 20 and 22 are laws designed to stimulate investment and job creation in Puerto Rico by providing economic incentives to investors who create businesses and move their permanent residences to the island.
Hamilton hopes in addition to mobilizing other Act 20/22 families, the announcement will result in “business leaders on the island thinking hard about how they can help the least fortunate, for the sake all of the people in Puerto Rico, the island that we all call home.”
“I’m honored to be part of an effort to help thousands of entrepreneurs start or grow businesses that will not only provide for their families, but contribute needed jobs to our economy,” Hamilton said.
Grameen America has been active in Puerto Rico since 2013, having disbursed more than $8 million in small loans to 2,790 borrowers. A key part of the success of the Grameen model is the coaching and mentorship it provides to women who want to launch or expand a business.
“After a disaster, our first priority is making sure people are safe. Then we continue to support them and help them get back on their feet,” said Andrea Jung, president of Grameen America.
“We are very grateful that Toby Neugebauer and Charlie Hamilton are helping to make this happen in San Juan and for their leadership in local communities,” she said.