Why Gina Harman is Extraordinary
There is a saying that if you really want someone to live, you should not just give him fish-you must teach him to fish. For years, Gina Harman and her team at ACCION USA have based their work on this principle, and has since brought change to the lives of thousands of people through microfinance. Read about the story of the woman who played a significant role in the growth of women in the business industry.
Gina Harman is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and economist who has an extensive background in the area of management and microfinance. She is currently the president and chief executive officer of ACCION USA, a company that helps small businesses and micro entrepreneurs by providing them affordable business loans. Since its inception, ACCION USA has been able to support literally tens of thousands of small businesses by providing over 130 million dollars-worth of loans, thus becoming key to the growth of the small businesses which then led to the improvement of the communities where they make business in. Since becoming ACCION USA's head, Gina has played a very significant role in the planning and development of strategies that further enable ACCION USA to expand their reach and help more businesses.
Made it to Fast Company's League of Extraordinary Women
A woman with more than 35 years of experience in managing businesses and organizations both in the private and public sectors, Gina truly exemplifies an ideal leader in the world of entrepreneurship. Prior to joining ACCION USA, Gina has worked with big shot companies such as Waldorf Astoria (where she was the executive director of the company Local Development Corporation), Washington Square Day Care Cooperative, Harman International Industries (where she served as the president of the company North American Operations of Consumer Group), and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (where she was a member of the Consumer Advisory Committee). These, among all of her other experiences have truly established Gina's reputation as a respected and more than capable leader in the field of management.
Throughout Gina's career in the business industry, she has received a number of awards that prove her exceptional skills in management and entrepreneurship. When Gina joined ACCION USA, it received the Neighborhood Achievement Award for her extraordinary methods in developing strategies that allowed the company to be able to reach out to more starting businessmen. As a true testament to her influence and encouragement, Gina has been included in Fast Company's “League of Extraordinary Women,” a prestigious list of women around the world who have become leaders in the industry they are in.
ACCION USA Helps Startup Businesses
But aside from her accomplishments, what actually makes Gina and her company very much worth mentioning is the kind of businessmen that ACCION USA serves. Most of ACCION USA's clients are small time startup businesses, owned by businessmen who were rejected by banks because they carried great risk in terms of the loan that they would be provided. And yet, in spite of this, Gina and her team at ACCION USA still help these businessmen.
Gina said in an interview:
“Over 90% of our clients are immigrants and / or minorities. They have an enormous entrepreneurial spirit, an interest to do better and to apply creative thinking to solve problems. The problem for many of them is how to take care of themselves and their Families. One of our clients said to me that he used to think of himself as poor, but now he knows he's not poor-he's a businessman. That transformation happens for the vast majority of our borrowers. In the end, that's what makes microfinance so different from other programs that help people rise up out of poverty. It's about empowerment and perfecting the tools so people can take control of their lives. ”
Gina understands the importance of micro financing in the lives of small business owners; this is becoming more evident today, as more and more small businesses are being established. As Gina often says in her blogs:
“While microfinance in the US has been helping to support small businesses and self-employed Americans for decades, there may be no opportunity like the present for domestic microfinance to energize small business on a much larger scale. The need is apparent: too many people still cannot find jobs, the income gap is ever-widening and signs of economic recovery remain sluggish … And yet, the 'irrepressibly American' spirit of can-do entrepreneurs, hardworking small business owners and brave survivors, marches on. And a growing appreciation for local and community-minded enterprise is taking root. ”
Gina and her team at ACCION USA do not just focus on providing microloans to startup entrepreneurs; They also partner with other business-oriented organizations to provide training programs that would equip these future entrepreneurs to become successful in their business endeavors. This not only ensures that the loans that were provided to these entrepreneurs would be used in the most efficient manner, but would also greatly benefit the entrepreneurs themselves by giving them the right information they can use in order to successfully grow their businesses.
In a blog she wrote, Gina tells the story of a young entrepreneur named Sandra who ACCION USA had helped:
“One of the graduates of the Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses Program was fashion designer and Accion client Sandra Nieto. Sandra Nieto moved to the United States from Colombia with the dream of running her own business. Sandra received a microloan from Accion to rent space and host two fashion shows. With her new earnings, she continued to gradually build and expand her business. And now, with the business education she obtained through the 10,000 Small Businesses Program program, she has the tools she needs to create a powerful business and contribute to sustainable economic growth. ”
Member of Many Philanthropic Organizations
Aside from her work with companies, Gina also actively participated and supported several non-profit organizations throughout her career. Known as a passionate advocate in various labor and community organizations, Gina has worked effectively with several foundations such as Girls Incorporated, Junior Achievement, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, CFED, YMCA USA, Kiva.org, Sam's Club for Giving Made Simple and Community Reinvestment Fund USA. Her active support of these companies not only shows her amazing ability in managing and entrepreneurship, but also reveals the heart that Gina has for helping people.
Finally, Gina recognizes the importance of the role of women and youth in the growth of society. In the United States, women entrepreneurs have started to rise in numbers, helping boost the economy of the country. Gina firmly believes that economic opportunities must be equally given to both the male and female members of society, so that stability is maintained which would give the next generation the hope of having a brighter future.
Gina often says:
“Our nation's youth must believe that they have a chance at a bright future that includes a college education, good job, a home and healthy savings account. Our nation's entrepreneurs must believe that their dreams of running their own business can be realized; that they can be their own boss, improve their standard of living, and make a positive contribution to their community and our economy. ”