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First National in Neb. invests in microfinance pioneer

First National Bank in Omaha, Neb., has invested $1.5 million in Grameen America.

The bank, a unit of the $21 billion-asset First National of Nebraska, said in a press release Tuesday that its equity-equivalent investment in Grameen America, a nonprofit microfinance organization in New York, is part of a broader strategy to provide more opportunity in Omaha.

“We recognize we have the ability to serve as a key connector to stability and growth within the Omaha community,” Alec Gorynski, First National’s vice president of corporate philanthropy and social responsibility, said in the release.

“That’s why we partner with organizations like Grameen America [that] are working to strengthen our community by creating and growing local businesses through training, technical assistance, education and microfinance,” Gorynski said.

The bank, which invested $1 million in Grameen America in 2014, also supports the nonprofit’s Omaha operations with annual community development grants. Grameen’s Omaha office opened in 2009.

Grameen America has a $3.7 million loan portfolio in Omaha, with an average balance of $1,423, said David Gough, the organization’s chief financial officer. The nonprofit has a goal of reaching $6 million in loans in the city, with an average balance of $1,818 by 2020.

“First National Bank helps considerably in developing our presence in the Omaha community through its unique insights and knowledge of the local market,” Gough said.

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