Houston based Fig Loans is the first FinTech company to receive both B Corporation and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) certifications. Started as a collaboration with the United Way of Greater Houston, Fig uses predictive analytics to offer credit building alternatives to predatory loans. With both CDFI and B Corp awards under its belt, Fig is the only FinTech that meets two of the highest standards for social performance, transparency and accountability to the community.
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While brands like Patagonia and Ben and Jerrys have made B Corps synonymous with commitment to social responsibility, CDFI is a lesser known but more powerful distinction particularly because of the focus on financial institutions. CDFIs are certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. All CDFIs are mission driven financial institutions working in local communities by providing critically needed financing often unavailable from mainstream financial institutions. In order to become a certified CDFI, financial institutions must meet the following requirements: have a primary mission of promoting community development; provide financial products and services; serve one or more defined low-income target markets; and maintain accountability to the community it serves. Most CDFIs are non-profits, community development banks and credit unions; only a select few institutions like lenders and venture capital funds receive the award.
Fig’s mission is to give working class Americans a second chance at building credit with the long-term goal of transitioning into mainstream credit products. The idea for the company originated from conversations with non-profit financial coaches and Fig continues to partner with nonprofit agencies across Texas to serve clients who would otherwise resort to payday, title or pawn shop loans.
“The definition of a CDFI aligns word for word with the founding vision for Fig,” says Co-Founder Jeff Zhou. “We are constantly impressed by the tremendous work our nonprofit partners do for communities underserved by mainstream financial services. Fig’s job is to support and enhance the impact of these amazing organizations with our finance and technology capabilities.”
Adrianna Cuellar Rojas, President and CEO of the United Ways of Texas also believes that Fig’s partnership model highlights the best aspects of technology and social sector collaboration. “United Ways across the state are actively working to support their communities including individuals who work yet struggle financially. Fig’s designation as a CDFI will now allow them to partner with local banks and expand their portfolio of payday lending alternatives.”
Beyond recognition, CDFI certification is the stepping stone for Fig to deepen engagement with traditional financial institutions. As a CDFI, Fig can help banks fulfill their obligation to provide capital to underserved communities through the Community Reinvestment Act. Fig will work with their advisory board of nonprofit partners to select the most suitable banks for long-term partnerships in each community. Becca Fritze, Manager of Financial Coaching at the United Way of Greater Houston and member of the Board believes that the CDFI certification is the missing piece of the puzzle for Fig. “Having a CDFI within the THRIVE network means a great deal because it creates a tangible way for local banks to reinvest dollars within the community. It creates a trifecta of players (financial institutions that have the dollars, nonprofits that provide critical wraparound supports and services, and Fig, which has the technology-powered solutions) that can make a difference for those who are shut out from traditional forms of finance.”
To learn more about Fig and their journey, please reach out to Zara Mohidin, Head of Partnerships at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Fig Loans
Fig provides credit building products for consumers and financial stability tools for community organizations. Started 2015 through a collaboration with United Way of Greater Houston, Fig is a graduate of Village Capital and TechStars in 2016 and has provided over $6.1M in loans to underserved Americans. CDFI is the second major certification for the FinTech company, which became a Certified B Corporation in 2017 and was honored as Best in the World for Consumers in 2018 by the B Corporation certifying body B Lab. To learn more about the Fig’s products visit https://figloans.com/about/responsible-lending-model.
About United Ways of Texas
The mission of the United Ways of Texas is to integrate action and resources for the common good. UWT is an association working with local United Ways across the state representing 254 counties. Together we work across our communities to tackle common challenges that affect our local communities but are bigger than any of us — challenges our entire state faces. Along with United Ways across the country, we are part of a global network of more than 1,800 United Ways, serving communities in 41 countries. For more information, go to www.uwtexas.org.
About United Ways of Greater Houston
United Way of Greater Houston partnered with Fig to create Fig Loans because safe and affordable loans are critical to many of the families served by United Way’s financial stability initiative, United Way THRIVE. United Way THRIVE is a collaborative that helps lower-income, working families increase their income, build savings, and acquire assets. To achieve their goals, THRIVE clients often must borrow money and are among the most vulnerable to predatory lending. Fig Loans are a good fit for THRIVE clients because they provide an alternative to payday and other risky loans and help families get out of debt, get through emergencies, and build credit. THRIVE pairs the loans with financial coaching to make sure clients have the other resources and support they need to be successful. Greater Houston area residents interested in establishing a pathway to financial stability can call United Way’s 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE by dialing 2-1-1 to get started.