OMAHA, Neb. -- A Nobel Peace Prize winner lauded Omaha's efforts to establish a bank that offers micro-loans to many living in poverty.
Dr. Muhammad Yunus, who won the 2006 prize for his innovative efforts to help diminish poverty in his homeland of Bangladesh, was in Omaha Monday for the ribbon-cutting of Grameen Bank.
Yunus founded the bank. Omaha joins New York City as the only two cities in the U.S. with branches.
"When we were invited to come to Omaha, that was a surprise. We skipped many other cities in between. It shows how Omaha places the importance on the work we do," Yunus said from south Omaha.
He declined to say who invited him.
Three hundred borrowers have used the microfinance program to start businesses in Omaha. The goal is 1,000 borrowers this year.
San Francisco has taken notice of the success in Omaha. A branch will soon open in that city.
"You'll become an example for many cities in the U.S. and as a result, an example for the entire world," Yunus said.
In addition to offering small loans, Grameen America offers a savings and credit-building program and financial education meetings.
Marybel Guevara benefited from the bank.
"I didn't have money and someone presented this program. I was so happy. It was a beginning to start my business," Guevara said.