American Express Launches National Program to Fund the Creation and Growth of New Small Businesses

New American Express(R) Community Business(SM) Card Will Contribute a

Portion of Spending to Microenterprise Development Organizations



Apr 17, 2001, 01:00 ET

    NEW YORK, April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- American Express Company today launched
 the Community Business(SM) program, a revolutionary new source of funding for
 individuals who have little or no access to credit and the other resources
 needed to start and grow their small firms.
     (Photo:  NewsCom:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20010417/NYTU078 )
     The core feature of the program is the new American Express Community
 Business Credit Card.  Designed for business owners interested in advancing
 the growth of small businesses, this innovative credit card contributes one
 percent of spending to select microenterprise development organizations that
 provide loans and technical assistance to microbusinesses.
     "American Express is proud to be supporting microenterprise development
 organizations, which have a long and important history helping those people
 who struggle to raise the financing and develop the skills necessary to launch
 and expand their businesses," said Kerry D. Hatch, Executive Vice President
 and General Manager, American Express Small Business Services.
     Microenterprises are businesses with fewer than five employees and capital
 needs of less than $35,000 a year.  Hatch noted that microenterprise
 development organizations in the U.S. serve more than 55,000 clients a year.
 Approximately 70 percent of the clients are women and about 60 percent are
 from a minority or ethnic/racial group.*
     "With all of us working together, we can have a dramatic impact on our
 communities by helping those who have the passion to start a small business,
 but not necessarily the resources," she said.
 
     The Community Business program teams with three non-profit organizations
 whose national presence and local expertise serve communities throughout the
 United States.  They are:
 
     ACCION
     ACCION helps low-income, self-employed people work their way up the
 economic ladder with dignity and pride.  In the United States and Latin
 America, ACCION provides small loans and training to these hard working
 entrepreneurs - corner grocers, seamstresses, childcare providers -- to help
 them grow their small businesses and improve the lives of their families.
 ACCION USA lends in New York City, greater Chicago, Atlanta, throughout Texas
 and New Mexico and in San Diego. Seventy-five percent of U.S. clients are
 Hispanic.  (http://www.accion.org)
     Maria Otero, ACCION President and CEO, said, "This is exactly the kind of
 private sector support we need to get more loans to our borrowers - for whom
 ACCION is their only source of business credit."
 
     Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)
     The national association of organizations committed to microenterprise
 development. AEO provides its members with a forum, information and a voice to
 promote enterprise opportunity for people and communities with limited access
 to economic resources.  AEO will be distributing funds from the Community
 Business program to eight AEO member groups that will use the funds to serve
 their clients. (http://www.microenterpriseworks.org)
      "Microenterprise programs around the country are striving to provide
 underserved entrepreneurs with the opportunity to start their own business.
 Community Business allows established small businesses to help in this
 effort," said Bill Edwards, AEO Executive Director.
 
     Count - Me - In for Women's Economic Independence
     Count - Me - In for Women's Economic Independence serves women of all
 ages, races and religious groups across the United States.  This online micro-
 lender provides business loans, training and mentoring to women struggling to
 start their own businesses, enabling them to support themselves and their
 families.  (http://www.count-me-in.org)
     "With Community Business, American Express gives more women their fair
 chance at the American dream," said Nell Merlino, CEO and Co-founder of Count-
 Me-In.
 
     In addition, American Express has signed agreements with 11 organizations
 to market the Community Business Card to their members and to raise the
 awareness of microenterprise development.  (Full list at end of press
 release.)
     "The power of the Community Business program comes from all of the
 partners working together for the same purpose, to nourish the great American
 tradition of starting your own business," said Richard Tambor, Senior Vice
 President, Small Business Lending for American Express.  "Harnessing our
 mutual passions and strengths, we can create the single largest, non-
 government source of funding in the history of microenterprise in the U.S."
     Today, microenterprise development organizations in the U.S. lend more
 than $33 million a year to small businesses, obtaining most of their funding
 through foundations and government agencies, like the Small Business
 Administration.*
     American Express has also created a new web site dedicated to Community
 Business (http://www.americanexpress.com/communitybusiness) where visitors
 will find information about microenterprise, about the recipient organizations
 and marketing supporters of Community Business, as well as a pressroom
 providing news and information.
     Small business owners also will be able to apply for the Community
 Business Card online. Features of the card include:
     -- Contribution of one percent of spending at no cost to the Cardmember
     -- No annual fee
     -- Credit line of up to $50,000
     -- Low 3.9% introductory APR (1)
     -- An annual interest rate of Prime + 5.99% (2)
     -- Exclusive Everyday Savings from FedEx Express(R), Mobil(R), Hertz, U.S.
        Hilton Hotels and Qwest(R) (3)
 
     American Express Small Business Services (SBS) is a unit of American
 Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. solely dedicated to serving
 companies with fewer than 100 employees.  Small Business Services provides a
 broad range of financial services, including charge and credit cards,
 equipment financing, term loans and lines of credit to more than 2.5 million
 small businesses in the U.S.  To obtain more information about SBS, visit the
 Small Business Exchange at http://www.americanexpress.com/smallbusiness.
 
     About American Express
     American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and
 network services company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and
 credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, business
 services, insurance and international banking.
 
     *FIELD in collaboration with AEO, Microenterprise Fact Sheets, 2000.
 
     1.  3.9% introductory rate on purchases for six months.  Then prime +
         5.99%.
     2.  Prime + 5.99%; currently 14.49% as of 3/1/01.
     3.  Terms and conditions apply.
 
     Microenterprise Development Media Contacts:
     Count Me In for Women's Economic Independence
     Nell Merlino                   212-691-6262
     Robyn Stein, Promedia          212-245-0510
 
     ACCION
     Robin Ratcliffe                617-492-4930 Ext. 1235
     Christiana Beebe               617-492-4930 Ext. 1245
 
     Association for Enterprise Opportunity
     Bill Edwards              703-841-7760   Ext. 22
     Zach Gast                 703-841-7760   Ext. 23
     Community Business Marketing Partners
     American Association of People with Disabilities
     Business Women's Network
     Disabled Business Persons Association
     Enterprising Women Magazine
     Latin Business Association
     National Association for the Self Employed
     National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
     National Dental Association
     National Indian Business Association
     National Medical Association
     The Women's Alliance
 
 

SOURCE
    NEW YORK, April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- American Express Company today launched
 the Community Business(SM) program, a revolutionary new source of funding for
 individuals who have little or no access to credit and the other resources
 needed to start and grow their small firms.
     (Photo:  NewsCom:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20010417/NYTU078 )
     The core feature of the program is the new American Express Community
 Business Credit Card.  Designed for business owners interested in advancing
 the growth of small businesses, this innovative credit card contributes one
 percent of spending to select microenterprise development organizations that
 provide loans and technical assistance to microbusinesses.
     "American Express is proud to be supporting microenterprise development
 organizations, which have a long and important history helping those people
 who struggle to raise the financing and develop the skills necessary to launch
 and expand their businesses," said Kerry D. Hatch, Executive Vice President
 and General Manager, American Express Small Business Services.
     Microenterprises are businesses with fewer than five employees and capital
 needs of less than $35,000 a year.  Hatch noted that microenterprise
 development organizations in the U.S. serve more than 55,000 clients a year.
 Approximately 70 percent of the clients are women and about 60 percent are
 from a minority or ethnic/racial group.*
     "With all of us working together, we can have a dramatic impact on our
 communities by helping those who have the passion to start a small business,
 but not necessarily the resources," she said.
 
     The Community Business program teams with three non-profit organizations
 whose national presence and local expertise serve communities throughout the
 United States.  They are:
 
     ACCION
     ACCION helps low-income, self-employed people work their way up the
 economic ladder with dignity and pride.  In the United States and Latin
 America, ACCION provides small loans and training to these hard working
 entrepreneurs - corner grocers, seamstresses, childcare providers -- to help
 them grow their small businesses and improve the lives of their families.
 ACCION USA lends in New York City, greater Chicago, Atlanta, throughout Texas
 and New Mexico and in San Diego. Seventy-five percent of U.S. clients are
 Hispanic.  (http://www.accion.org)
     Maria Otero, ACCION President and CEO, said, "This is exactly the kind of
 private sector support we need to get more loans to our borrowers - for whom
 ACCION is their only source of business credit."
 
     Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)
     The national association of organizations committed to microenterprise
 development. AEO provides its members with a forum, information and a voice to
 promote enterprise opportunity for people and communities with limited access
 to economic resources.  AEO will be distributing funds from the Community
 Business program to eight AEO member groups that will use the funds to serve
 their clients. (http://www.microenterpriseworks.org)
      "Microenterprise programs around the country are striving to provide
 underserved entrepreneurs with the opportunity to start their own business.
 Community Business allows established small businesses to help in this
 effort," said Bill Edwards, AEO Executive Director.
 
     Count - Me - In for Women's Economic Independence
     Count - Me - In for Women's Economic Independence serves women of all
 ages, races and religious groups across the United States.  This online micro-
 lender provides business loans, training and mentoring to women struggling to
 start their own businesses, enabling them to support themselves and their
 families.  (http://www.count-me-in.org)
     "With Community Business, American Express gives more women their fair
 chance at the American dream," said Nell Merlino, CEO and Co-founder of Count-
 Me-In.
 
     In addition, American Express has signed agreements with 11 organizations
 to market the Community Business Card to their members and to raise the
 awareness of microenterprise development.  (Full list at end of press
 release.)
     "The power of the Community Business program comes from all of the
 partners working together for the same purpose, to nourish the great American
 tradition of starting your own business," said Richard Tambor, Senior Vice
 President, Small Business Lending for American Express.  "Harnessing our
 mutual passions and strengths, we can create the single largest, non-
 government source of funding in the history of microenterprise in the U.S."
     Today, microenterprise development organizations in the U.S. lend more
 than $33 million a year to small businesses, obtaining most of their funding
 through foundations and government agencies, like the Small Business
 Administration.*
     American Express has also created a new web site dedicated to Community
 Business (http://www.americanexpress.com/communitybusiness) where visitors
 will find information about microenterprise, about the recipient organizations
 and marketing supporters of Community Business, as well as a pressroom
 providing news and information.
     Small business owners also will be able to apply for the Community
 Business Card online. Features of the card include:
     -- Contribution of one percent of spending at no cost to the Cardmember
     -- No annual fee
     -- Credit line of up to $50,000
     -- Low 3.9% introductory APR (1)
     -- An annual interest rate of Prime + 5.99% (2)
     -- Exclusive Everyday Savings from FedEx Express(R), Mobil(R), Hertz, U.S.
        Hilton Hotels and Qwest(R) (3)
 
     American Express Small Business Services (SBS) is a unit of American
 Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. solely dedicated to serving
 companies with fewer than 100 employees.  Small Business Services provides a
 broad range of financial services, including charge and credit cards,
 equipment financing, term loans and lines of credit to more than 2.5 million
 small businesses in the U.S.  To obtain more information about SBS, visit the
 Small Business Exchange at http://www.americanexpress.com/smallbusiness.
 
     About American Express
     American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and
 network services company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and
 credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, business
 services, insurance and international banking.
 
     *FIELD in collaboration with AEO, Microenterprise Fact Sheets, 2000.
 
     1.  3.9% introductory rate on purchases for six months.  Then prime +
         5.99%.
     2.  Prime + 5.99%; currently 14.49% as of 3/1/01.
     3.  Terms and conditions apply.
 
     Microenterprise Development Media Contacts:
     Count Me In for Women's Economic Independence
     Nell Merlino                   212-691-6262
     Robyn Stein, Promedia          212-245-0510
 
     ACCION
     Robin Ratcliffe                617-492-4930 Ext. 1235
     Christiana Beebe               617-492-4930 Ext. 1245
 
     Association for Enterprise Opportunity
     Bill Edwards              703-841-7760   Ext. 22
     Zach Gast                 703-841-7760   Ext. 23
     Community Business Marketing Partners
     American Association of People with Disabilities
     Business Women's Network
     Disabled Business Persons Association
     Enterprising Women Magazine
     Latin Business Association
     National Association for the Self Employed
     National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
     National Dental Association
     National Indian Business Association
     National Medical Association
     The Women's Alliance
 
 SOURCE