In this episode of Capital for Good we speak with Andrea Jung, the president and CEO of Grameen America, the fastest growing microfinance organization in the United States. Jung is the former chairman and CEO of Avon Products Inc, where she was the longest serving female CEO in the Fortune 500, and a stalwart champion of women’s economic empowerment in the United States and across the globe. Jung has been widely recognized as one of the most influential women in business, and in forging public-private partnerships that end violence against women, support women’s health, and vastly expand economic inclusion. Since 2014, under Jung’s leadership, Grameen America has expanded to serve more than 179,000 women in 25 cities across the United States, with plans to continue to increase the organization’s impact over the next decade.

Over the course of this conversation, Jung explains how a multi-decade career at Avon, where she began in a mid-level marketing role and would serve as the first woman CEO from 1999 through 2012 (and chairman from 2001 to 2012), was inspired and shaped by the company’s longstanding mission to empower women via a pathway to economic independence and equal opportunity. Jung explains that by giving Avon “ladies,” the company’s direct to consumer sales force, personal earning power, it allows them to change the lives of their families and communities. Founded in 1886 — more than thirty years before women’s suffrage in the United States — Avon’s commitment to women’s economic empowerment has been the foundational DNA of the company, linking its purpose and commercial success. As CEO, Jung was responsible for significant global growth, expanding economic earnings (approximately $3 billion) and opportunities for over six million women in more than 100 countries.

Jung explains how this experience in women’s economic empowerment at Avon naturally led her to Grameen America. Founded by Muhammad Yunus, the economist and Nobel Laureate who pioneered microlending in Bangladesh, Grameen America sought to extend this model to the United States. Today, Grameen America’s 179,000 members, primarily Black and Latina women with 99.8 percent repayment rates on $3.5 billion in loans to date, have proven the case. Through a combination of new partnerships, technological innovations, and a greater visibility of the success of its financial inclusion model — to new borrowers, policy makers, and donors and lenders — Grameen America is poised for “breakout” growth and scale.

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