Grameen PrimaCare (GPC) is dedicated to significantly improving access to high-quality affordable health care for underserved communities in the United States. GPC seeks to test and deliver innovative and comprehensive health care models that combine high-quality affordable primary care, health education, and wellness programs, to empower low-income women to build healthier lives and cultivate healthy communities.
GPC was created to cost-effectively improve the health of Grameen America members in New York City. Grameen America, our microfinance sister organization, has brought affordable credit, savings, and other financial services to more than 10,000 low-income women entrepreneurs in New York City and around the U.S. since 2008. Of these members, 99.4% are paying back their loans on time. The success of this program is directly attributable to its unique design. GA was founded by Professor Muhammad Yunus, and uses the same Grameen Bank group model that has been refined over decades of testing. Yunus and the Bank members were awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for Grameen Bank’s achievements.
The Grameen model requires individuals to form a group of five and meet on a weekly basis to make loan repayments and savings account deposits. The loans are small, averaging about $1,500, but they provide the women with the only affordable opportunity to improve their financial circumstances. With a focus on women’s empowerment, GA currently offers loans exclusively to women borrowers, and only for business-building purposes. Each member of a group receives a loan and is responsible for repaying it. No group member may increase their loan amount unless each of that group’s members’ loans are current. The group structure thus encourages social accountability and creates a strong incentive for prompt loan repayment. This group structure has also fostered a strong social network and offers a powerful platform for GPC to launch a high-impact health program.
GPC is launching its first program in New York City, which has the highest concentration of GA members in the country. GA members are typically single mothers, 90% of them are Hispanic immigrants, and they have an average family size of three. While GA members’ health is negatively influenced by socioeconomic factors due to their low income, many are also undocumented, which also impacts their health. From our initial research, we found that 40% of GA members lack health insurance. They often suffer from untreated chronic conditions (e.g. obesity, diabetes, and hypertension) that are common among vulnerable populations. Many report feeling anxious and depressed. They are sorely pressed for time as well as money, and have great difficulty navigating the health care system.