TO CATCH A DOLLAR: MUHAMMAD YUNUS BANKS ON AMERICA

For 30 years, Muhammad Yunus helped 7.5 million Bangladeshi move out of poverty. Can he help women in Queens, NY achieve their American Dream?

TO CATCH A DOLLAR: MUHAMMAD YUNUS BANKS ON AMERICA
World Premiere, March 9, 2011 in New York City
Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus in Attendance

The documentary TO CATCH A DOLLAR: MUHAMMAD YUNUS BANKS ON AMERICA, directed and produced by Gayle Ferraro, will have its World Premiere in New York City on March 9.

The film chronicles Grameen America, a not-for-profit microfinance organization founded by Yunus, during its first year of operations in Queens, New York. Professor Yunus is known worldwide for his successful application of the concept of microcredit, the extension of small loans to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. With Grameen America, Yunus has replicated the micro-credit model in the US. Since opening in January 2008, Grameen America
has disbursed more than $4.3 million in loans to 2,002 borrowers and maintains a repayment
rate of 99%.

TO CATCH A DOLLAR: MUHAMMAD YUNUS BANKS ON AMERICA follows several entrepreneurial women borrowers as they pursue their paths from poverty to success, whether opening a bakery, starting a hair salon, or selling ice cream. Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus will attend the Premiere, which will be followed by a panel discussion and a call to action campaign.

TO CATCH A DOLLAR was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival 2010

The Story

Professor Muhammad Yunus never wanted to be a banker and he certainly never imagined winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Yet his quest to help the working poor invest in themselves led to both. Known as the father of microcredit loans in Bangladesh, Yunus spent years developing the Grameen Bank, and in 1983 it became a fully licensed bank with a twist – it was owned by its borrowers – mainly poor women.

Yunus is famous for saying that in developing Grameen he deliberately did the opposite of what a conventional bank would do. Today, the success of Grameen Bank has changed the lives of 7.5 million Bangladeshi borrowers and their families. Grameen is now in 38 countries and has made over 100 million microcredit loans.

But why stop at Bangladesh and poor nations? As the global financial industry struggles with plummeting markets and job losses, Yunus holds steady with his latest banking initiative in New York. Under intense scrutiny from international press and academics, Grameen America opened for business in a nondescript office building in Jackson Heights, Queens in late 2007. As the U.S. credit market crumbled and the giant banks of Wall Street faltered one by one, Grameen put 500 potential women borrowers into groups of five, with loans of up to $3,000 dispersed for small business ideas, each group of five had developed. Following the Bangladeshi model, each group became its own loan committee, with the women making weekly payments and contribution to a mandatory savings account as they built their income generating activity.

In one year, the Jackson Heights branch of Grameen America grew to loan over $1.5 million to 550 women. Just twelve months after opening, they’ve added two more branches in Brooklyn and Manhattan, with the plan to opening other U.S. cities in the coming year. TO CATCH A DOLLAR follows the journey of two of these women borrowers and the changes their lives undergo over the course of a year. Working with borrowed money for the first time, they begin to realize their own potential and the power that comes with it.