Investing in Our Future By Empowering Women
Apr 18, 2017
By Contributing Editor: Andrea Jung, President & CEO of Grameen America
This week, hundreds of Fairfield County community leaders and FCCF supporters will join together to celebrate the incredible work of the Foundation and the Fund for Women & Girls. The Fund’s mission is to support the safety, health and economic security of women and girls across Fairfield County. I cannot think of a more necessary mission.
For three decades now, I have worked to advance women’s economic opportunity because I believe whole heartedly that when women succeed, our communities thrive. After twenty years at Avon working to instill confidence and financial security for women around the globe, I made the decision to join Grameen America and pour my passion for women’s entrepreneurship into an even needier population.
Providing Women With Access To Support
After nine years, Grameen America is the fastest growing microfinance institution in the United States. We provide women living in poverty with access to capital, financial training and support to start small businesses and provide for their families. We have supported over 90,000 women around the country, proving the incredible need for basic financial services and economic opportunity.
Each of these 90,000 women has an incredible story. I am often asked what a $1,500 microloan can do for a woman in the United States today. Put simply: it can change their lives. Take Susana. After fleeing a bad marriage, Susana lived on the subway with her young son. When she joined Grameen America, she used her $1,500 microloan to rent her own chair in in a hair salon in Queens. Now having borrowed over $80,000 cumulatively from Grameen America, she has triumphed over all odds. She now owns her own hair salon and has employed four other women from her neighborhood.
The work we do at Grameen America is just one example of how we can empower women in need. FCCF’s Fund for Women & Girls and Grameen America have similar missions; whether with a microloan or a college degree, we all have a part to play in creating the change that we wish to see in our communities.
The truth is that far too many women in Fairfield County are struggling to support their families and achieve their potential. In fact, the median income for women in Fairfield is just $50,000 when we know it takes more than $70,000 a year to provide for one’s self and child. With nearly half of all female-headed households with children living in poverty, we know there is great need for FCCF’s programs.
That’s why FCCF and the Fund for Women & Girls have never been more important. Programs like the Family Economic Security Program are empowering hundreds of women to overcome adversity and receive vital education, mentorship and financial training. With over $400,000 in grants distributed to organizations that bolster women’s economic security and improve access to basic services, the ripples of FCCF’s work will continue to improve life for the women of Fairfield County for years to come.
Through my own personal journey, I have seen time and again the very important role that community organizations like FCCF play in lifting women out of poverty and rebuilding communities. By making the impossible possible, FCCF is paving the way for women in the community to achieve their dreams and ensure a happy and healthy life for their children.
Andrea Jung is the President and CEO of Grameen America, the fastest growing nonprofit microfinance organization in the United States. Ms. Jung joined Grameen America with the goal of scaling the organization to solve economic issues for women and their families across the country. She is the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Avon Products, Inc., where she served as CEO from 1999 through 2012. Throughout her professional career, Ms. Jung ranked consistently among the top leaders on lists including Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Business,” Forbes magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in the World,” and Financial Times’ “Top Women in World Business.” Ms. Jung is the Keynote Speaker for the Fund for Women and Girls 2017 Annual Luncheon on April 20th.