Jul 19 '19

At the Intersection of Opportunity and Impact

Adam Lee
Adam Lee
Incubator Director
Filene Research Institute

Stop and think about all of the amazing things that happen at intersections. Pause and observe the intersections in the community you serve and see the intersection of opportunity and impact.

Adam Lee
Adam Lee
Incubator Director
Filene Research Institute

Do a quick internet search for busiest intersections in the world and you will find some pretty memorable landmarks. Place Charles de Gaulle in Paris, spaghetti junction in Atlanta, Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Times Square in New York.

Stop and just think about all of the amazing things that happen at intersections. There are people crossing, cars taking turns in a seemingly coordinated manner, businesses humming along. I think intersections are fascinating.

There are plenty of intersections in research as well. Seemingly unrelated ideas or concepts come to a head and BOOM, magic happens. Filene has been uncovering some interesting and impactful intersections recently with credit unions and their communities. Take for example the intersection of workplace wellness and credit unions. Check out Filene’s recent report on this. How about the intersection of furniture and human capital. Yeah, that’s right. Filene has a report on that too!

In Filene’s Incubator, I’ve become personally passionate about the intersection and interconnectedness of two programs we tested in the Reaching Minority Households Incubator: Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) Lending and Small Business Microlending. Both of these programs showed incredible promise to positively impact consumers and credit union bottom lines. Accordingly, Filene partnered with Coopera, Inclusiv, PolicyWorks, Accion, and Grameen America to conduct a series of Accelerating Financial Inclusion Workshops across the U.S.

Accelerate Financial Inclusion Workshop in Chicago, IL, on June 25-26, 2019.

In these workshops, we stress that credit unions must look to serve everyone in their community if they want to drive true financial inclusion and not serve those populations that are readily accessible or easily visible. Credit unions must develop programs that extend access and opportunity to everyone within their field of membership. We position ITIN Lending and Small Business Microlending as two tools to help credit unions fulfill that mission.

During the course of the workshops, participants have exposed an amazing intersection between these two programs. By offering both programs, credit unions are learning how to accelerate their growth and maximize impact by serving the small business needs of the fastest growing community in the U.S., Hispanics.

Accelerate Financial Inclusion Workshop in Chicago, IL, on June 25-26, 2019.

Now, to be clear (and we stress this in the workshops) ITIN Lending is not exclusively Hispanic Lending. ITIN Lending can help credit unions expand access to critical financial services for immigrant populations from every corner of the globe. However, credit unions cannot ignore that Hispanics represent not only the fastest growing immigrant population in the U.S., but also the fastest growing population of citizens too!

U.S. Census data estimate there are 58.9 million Hispanics in the U.S. and represent over $2.1 trillion in purchasing power. Did that get your attention? By 2060, it is estimated that Hispanics will represent 30% of the overall population, over 111 million individuals.

Here is where the intersection with small business microlending gets exciting. Small business trends show that 87% of Hispanic entrepreneurs plan on expanding their businesses. There is a growing need for small business capital in the fastest growing population in the U.S.. Credit unions choosing to implement both programs are positioning themselves well to take advantage of this busy intersection.

In fact, both small business microlending financial inclusion workshop partners, Accion and Grameen America, are already serving ITIN holders with their small business needs. For Accion, 62% of their loans go to households of color including Hispanics and ITIN holders. As part of the workshops, credit unions are learning how to partner with Accion and Grameen America to expand small business credit access to EVERYONE in their community. 

Again, stop and just think about all of the amazing things that happen at intersections. Observe the intersections in the community you serve, and truly see the intersection of opportunity and impact. I bet you will find a lot of consumers in need and a credit union filled with talent and passion. 

Accelerate Financial Inclusion Workshop in Chicago, IL, on June 25-26, 2019.

If your credit union is at that crossroads of growth, get off your viewing post and get into the mix of that intersection. Take action today to live the opportunity and not just passively watch the opportunity unfold in front of you. Join Filene and our partners in any of the upcoming workshops to gain the tools to drive financial inclusion in your community. We look forward to meeting you there!