View Full Library
logo mxs

Innovation Beyond Statistics: Driving Change in Financial Inequities

Listen to this unfiltered panel discussion with leaders and innovators who’ll tackle questions that move us beyond contemplation of statistics to how to drive change surrounding underserved and underrepresented communities. Let’s talk about the future of niche financial offerings and how we can empower even the most marginalized communities.

Request a Demo

Watch Next


The Role of Financial Literacy in Personalization

Moneyhub, Truist Bank, MX, Franklin Templeton, Mentoro

Closing the Financial Advice Gap

MX, Emprise Bank, BECU

Increasing Digital Adoption and Engagement


Alright, our speakers are taking their seats, and I wanna welcome everyone to today's, uh, session breakout on Innovation Beyond Statistics: Driving Change in Financial Inequities.

And our moderator will be Carly Cowan from MX. She heads up our diversity, inclusion and equity, and so welcome, Carly. Welcome panelists. I'm gonna hand the floor over to you.

Thank you, Jess. So, we're actually gonna jump over, and I'm gonna allow, I'm really humbled to share this stage with each of you, um, true change makers, um, for, for, um, underserved communities and in the financial industry. So thank you for being here. Um, Jackie, do you mind introducing yourself and just giving us a quick brief of who you are?

Yeah, good afternoon, everybody. My name is Jackie Martinez-Vazquez, and I'm the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at BECU. And that stands for Boeing Employees Credit Unions, although it's not just for Boeing, uh, but BECU, everybody's been asking us what does it stand for. Um, and I have been in my role for about, uh, three years.

And as I was sharing with Carly, um, I kept measuring by month, up until two years, like when you have children, you know, and you're like, oh, they're like 18 months. So I'm not a newbie anymore. So three years, um, in financial services and have served in a, um, uh, many other organizations and industries, um, in the same role for about 20 years. So thank you for having me

And Beth...

I'm Beth Johnson, and I, um, work at Goldman Sachs. I manage their operations for the enterprise partnerships, which is the Apple Card, GM card, and Apple Savings Accounts. Um, and I've been with them for seven years, and I'm really excited. I've worked my whole career in customer service, actually. And so I'm really passionate about the experience that we offer to our customers.

Um, I'm DIVINE. Good afternoon. I'm the CEO and founder of Solvent. Solvent is a, um, a mobile first all in one, a banking and financial empowerment platform focused on the system impacted, so people who are, uh, formerly incarcerated, socioeconomic disadvantage, and of course, underserved and overlooked.

Thank you. And Ashley, And I just realized, I just realized how I know you. So we're good now. I was, you ever get stuck in your head? You're like, I know this guy. Um, we'll, we'll talk about, we, we, we're good friends.

Um, I'm Ashley Bell. I'm CEO of, uh, fintech called Ready Life, which is a banking as a service focused on at risk, uh, communities. And we do, uh, we help banks meet their CRA needs. So we're CCRA as a service for big banks. We help build a trust gap between communities that, uh, don't have trust in financial institutions, and we help build it through creating opportunities for 'em to get mortgages without credit scores and underwrite off cashflow. And then I'm also, uh, the executive chairman of a bank we've acquired in Holiday, Utah. So right here, the first African American and minority owned bank in Utah, the first.

Congratulations, and thank you. All right. So I'm going to just set the stage here about my why. So I, I come from the financial services industry --- nearly 15 years at Goldman Sachs. Um, part of it alongside my amazing friend Beth. Um, but as much, uh, of education as I've had in financial services, uh, just this last year, um, I was the victim of a major con, uh, that took my life savings and coming through and, and realizing and reinvigorating my why as a solo mom and realizing that I needed, as much education of as I've had and the privileges that I've had in my life, if something like this can happen to me, I know I can also help and educate and bring tools to others like me, and especially in underserved communities.

And that really brought through that fruition of, of all of the work that I've done in the financial services industry, and sitting alongside and hearing stories of others. And so, as I do that in every conversation I have, and, and my internal role now is, is truly internal in terms of helping MX grow in diversity and grow in sense of belonging of, of our own employees. And through that is understanding and creating equitable processes and, and creating policies that benefit, um, our diverse population.

How do, how do companies really serve the underserved if you don't understand your own people, right? And, and bring those, those, uh, individual experiences to life. So today, I really wanna kind of understand and just set the stage really of, of what's our advice, right? To other financial institutions, because we can get stuck in statistics. You saw on the main stage today, statistics overall, whether it's global or for the U.S., underserved communities, the statistics are even greater.

So what do we really think institutions can do to take, not just looking at statistics, but driving them, um, to take that next step?

Who's going first?

Any of us can. Oh, Ladies.

Yeah, I, I can start and I'm sure everybody will add to. Um, I think that, you know, oftentimes, um, it's people get paralyzed after they know these statistics and they never move to action. Um, and you know, what, what I, those of us that, you know, have, do this work, the hard work, we talk about, um, the mind, the heart, but also the feet, right?

So it's not just about understanding a business case of why, um, you need to serve, um, underserved or communities of color or, you know, whatever your, um, your focus is. Um, but it's actually making sure that you move into the action piece, and that you don't just get paralyzed with how big this may seem at times, um, but that you actually lead, move into action. And I, I think a few things that I would say is don't wait for something to feel like it's perfect in order to go and try it out. Um, you actually have to do something, right? You we're never gonna, especially, um, financial institutions we're not necessarily known for having built trust, in fully knowing these communities, um, in a way that we have all of the knowledge to be able to develop products or services that will meet their needs. Right now, that's a strategy within, you know, DEI and, and within, um, your institutions around building those relationships. But don't let that, uh, lack of having that paralyze you, um, and not try anything.

And so I would say, you know, try something, be agile. Know that it's gonna change, and know that community will tell you what works, what doesn't, especially the, uh, marginalized and underrepresented communities. Um, and make sure that you understand that when you are gonna go try something likely, it'll, it will change. And likely it'll take time for it to take root. Um, because relationships take a long time and trust takes a long time. And so I think moving beyond the statistics is really making sure that you have that long-term commitment, that you're not just doing it for one year and then it didn't work. So you know what, we tried that we're not gonna do it again. Um, but actually making sure that you have that long-term commitment, that you move beyond the statistics, that you actually try something that you learn, and at least communities will understand that you're trying, um, instead of just, you know, waiting for community to come and ask you for what they need.

One thing, um, that for me has been really impactful is to actually talk to our customers. And when I, and I, I think very similar to what you were saying, Jackie, like, if you don't know what people are going through, then how do you know what to build for them? And how do you know what to do for them? Um, I, every month, uh, I take chats and answer customer questions. I am Goldman Sach's most expensive chat agent. Um, but I think it's really important to do that because I know now what our customers are dealing with and what their issues are, and like what is confusing to them, um, and how the procedures and policies that I approve are impacting their lives. And so it's been a really, uh, rich conversation that I've been able to take back with our team and, uh, be able to change some of the things that we do.

In fact, one thing, um, that really stuck out, we, I, uh, spent over an hour on the phone with an older gentleman trying to help him get logged into our website. And I was like, this is ridiculous. Why should a website take an hour to get into? And while we were going through it, I uncovered a lot, lot of things that are super confusing in the directions that we're giving people and in the way that our website's laid out. And we ended up creating a, um, a guide for people for their, like first-time login. And I think we, uh, sent it out to, um, thousands of people who were having challenges, who wanted to be online and wanted to deal with us in a digital way, which is what we want too. But they didn't know how to do it. And we were our own worst enemy. And I think very often you can, um, if you just go talk to somebody, talk to a customer using your products, your services, experiencing your procedures and your policies, then that changes everything.

You just see it from a totally different perspective. and what may have seemed well intentioned when you signed off on it, you realize, oh, that didn't work the way I thought it was going to, or, oh, I think there's a better way we could explain that, or we could do that. But if you don't talk to people, if you don't go experience it, then you're, you're not gonna know. And I think that's really, that's the hardest challenge in everything that we do, because, um, we know how we bank, we know how we use our checking accounts, but we don't know how the person next to us uses it.

And I think that that's like, it's so powerful to just collect a lot more data through the experiences of others.

Yeah. To add onto to both their thoughts. And when you look at statistics and raw data, you are looking at numbers, right? But behind those numbers are real people, right? So I think that these executives at these companies really need to approach us with empathy, right? Have this empathy to understand these are humans at the end of this, at the end of the day, and how are the decisions we are making affecting their lives? And, and like Beth just said, um, understanding that customer, understanding that end user in a way that, um, that is more intimate than just the number or the statistic, right?

Uh, and I think that that's the first approach an individual should have that doesn't come from that demographic to really understand that, understand those individuals. That's really powerful. I'm not the, you know, Hispanic Caucasian with an account with you, right? I'm a human behind it.

I'm not just a statistic. So, Ashley, anything to add?

Yeah, you know, I think, um, statistics are really just fingerprints of systems. We see the statistics, but you gotta look back to how, what creates that statistic, right? So I offer to you, if you feel like this is something you wanna truly understand, you need to understand the history of our systems.

We all are spokespeople or people that are sitting in front of systems that were built on our financial system. And I'm gonna give you two books if you wanna read. It can be helpful. One: Color of Money: Black Banks Closing and Racial Wealth Gap in America, actually written by Mehrsa, uh, I can't say her last name, Lord knows, uh, but look it up. And she's actually co-chair of our, of our, um, of our advisory council. And the second is The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. These two books will outline for you how we got here, because I think if you don't understand how we got here, you really don't know where we're going. And you can't be a change agent to affect what happens next.

And when we talk about, and I think you, you talked about it right when you said that, um, you know, people are sometimes afraid to get started. What is that spark that takes you from sitting in this room and then go doing something differently than you were gonna do anyway? Well, let's start with this. Especially when it comes to banking, there is no such thing as inaction. Your inaction is action.

When you choose a bank, it's like choosing a company that reflects your values. Are you banking your values? 'cause we know good and well, you can Google right now and you can find the top five or six banks that are currently under federal consent decrees to stop discriminating against people of color and women. It's going on right now. If your money is in those banks, that is a choice. You made a choice. So you can leave here today and do nothing, but know that you still are doing something. 'cause while you're asleep, your money is working. And is it working to make this country better? Is it working to make people's lives better while you're sleeping? Or is it perpetuating a system that reflects these statistics? But there is no option of an action, but It's really powerful.

Thank you, Ashley. Um, speaking of change agents, Jackie, your work in, um, immigration advocacy, social justice is really powerful. How do you see financial institutions partnering with organizations, with community leaders to really understand the challenges of those that are underserved?

You know, I, I think it takes a whole system. Um, honestly, I've seen institutions, especially in, in working in the financial industry, um, where it is, you know, we're gonna go and give some money to nonprofits and, you know, we're that we're gonna feel good because we're giving money, but that's not actual engagement.

That's not actually understanding the historical implications that this, that our system has had on those communities. It's not really understanding what those communities need. I think it takes really a, a holistic strategy of, of engagement, of authentic engagement to communities. And it's not just the job of, you know, of a foundation or a giving, um, but it, it is actually the whole system. It's thinking about how are we, um, creating relationships that are meaningful. That's authentic engagement.

How are we, um, have building relationships that are, uh, that are really rooted in trust, um, and understanding that, um, institutions, you know, the ones that you were just talking about in that people's money is in there. Some, some communities actually don't know, right? Um, these institutions have been so good at saying, you know what, I will, I will lend to I-10, uh, holders. Um, and so holders go in and bank with those institutions that may not have their best interest in mind, right? But they've, they've figured out how to engage community and how to, how to, um, get those customers in, in their banks. Um, but, you know, I think community is, is there in their willing, um, to partner with financial institutions.

ut it can't be a one-way relationship. It has to be a mutually benefiting relationship. It also requires for us to think, to rethink the way that we engage with communities to understand that in the same way that we pay consultants all the time to come and tell us how to do things, that we have to compensate communities for the knowledge that they impart when they, um, tell us what kind of products they need when they tell us what, you know, what their needs are in general and when they trust us. So, I mean, I, I think that there, there's just a, a reframing around how we do engagement, but I think communities are there and they're willing. Um, but we need to make sure that our engagement is also not, that it's not one sided, and that it's not an engagement of just one touch point and then we leave and we never come back. I think it's long-term engagements with communities.

Yeah. And, and long-term engagement. Speaking of, you know, Goldman Sachs and the, you know, 1 million Black Women Initiative, Beth, can you talk to us a little bit about, because you know, the research that that Gold Goldman has shown that if you go into communities and, and the best way to affect, uh, the racial wealth gap is to listen and to support black women?

Yeah, it's really interesting. Sorry, I'm gonna just read this 'cause these stats are powerful and they're things that like, I don't know that I appreciated, um, this until our company made the investment. Um, so research shows that, uh, reducing the earnings gap for black women, the US GDP could in, uh, could be raised by 2% --- our entire wealth as a country by just investing in black women, which is like incredible. I, I would just never, like, I don't know that I fully understood the impact that we can have. And so, um, just a couple of, uh, quick, you know, kind of highlights.

And I think the community conversation has been what's been really exciting about this. Um, there's Goldman's held listening sessions with over 20,000 black women to understand, like, what are the issues? Where are the barriers? What can we do to help? Where is, um, you know, where is our money best used? And it really is in partnering with organizations that already exist. And I think that that's a lot of it. You talked about where to start, and I think a lot of times we think we have to do it on our own, and that's not it at all. Like, we just, there are people already doing great things, and we need to go and invest in them and give them what the, the support that they need, the capital that they need and help further their mission.

And so that's been a big part of what's been done, um, since, uh, as of Q1 of this year, we've deployed more than $2.1 billion in investment capital, and over $23 million in philanthropic capital to 137 organizations, companies, and projects, um, to, uh, lay the groundwork to positively impact lives of over 200,000 black women. Um, and I'm really just, you know, could not be more proud to be a part of a company that understands the importance of this, um, and understands the importance of the investment.

And I think one of the things, you know, I think a lot of times there's like, okay, well that's great. Like Goldman Sachs can do that, but what can, like I do as an individual and what can I do within my own company? And I think there's like little things that all of us can do. And a lot of it is where do you spend your money? Where do you put your money? And where do you spend your money? And do a little bit of research and find, and that's one thing I've also really loved. Um, our company during the holidays does like a pop-up shop in the, like, lobby of the building and invites, um, black women-owned businesses to come and, uh, you know, like sell their goods and services to our employees. And so like, I'm ready with my credit card every year for that event. Um, and I think that that's it, right? Like you take the time to decide where your money is going to go, and that drives the change. Um, and every one of us can make that impact today. Like, we have a choice today about where we're buying our lunch, where we're, you know, gonna take our kids this evening for fun and what we're gonna do with our, um, time and money and, and so we can, uh, impact that just with these little small simple steps as well. Part of that Goldman culture and, um, always kept me for as long as I did. I thought I was gonna be in and out in two years stamping on my resume, but there I was, um, 13 years later. Um, it, and it's programs like that that help drive some true change.

And, and speaking of that, um, Ashley, the recent acquisition of Holiday Bank by Redemption, um, really is a, a huge, huge undertaking, but it sets this stage for so much more. Can you talk a little bit about what it, what it truly means in helping break down that barrier to, um, you know, to entry, right?

Yeah. You know, um, we always joke and, and I have some of my team here. I got Sui Lang from Zion Bank's on our advisory board, Zach's on our advisory board. Um, you know, we joke about it sometimes 'cause it was, you know, we're in Utah and I actually acquired the bank from another company that was Jewish. And then we all start off with saying, okay, so some black investors and some Jewish guys walk into a Mormon bank to buy it and see how that works out. And, and we're still figuring out how that works out.

But here's the thing, when you look at why is so groundbreaking, it's just part of breaking down America's, uh, um, just the barriers. Like, first off, the, this is the first time that minority investors have ever been able to buy a bank that was not minority in this way. And the reason is the same reason that stops a lot of these transactions from happening now. And 60 years ago and 70 years ago, we have a very unique American phenomenon called white flight. When minorities show up, sometimes white people leave. It could be a school system, it could be a restaurant, it could be a nightclub. Complexion changes. We've seen white folks move to the other side of town.

Well, the quickest way to take down a bank is to move deposits. So if you don't have the right everything set up and you're a minority, you come in and you buy a bank that's 100% white, very easily that money could leave like that. And your bank's gone, your deal's gone. You don't have anything. So what's very unique about this deal is, I'll be honest with you, I don't think there's any other state we could do this deal but Utah, and that makes your head scratch. But the difference is, first we make good business decisions to help the employees, give them all raises, make sure they were in a good position. But on top of that, the community here is so tight that if you can convince people here that you're here and you're bringing something of value, then they support you. And we see that story told all the time, but I can't say it that would've happened if I was in Mississippi, just being honest with you.

But the Brookings Institute said it best, what Redemption, which is the name of our bank, what Redemption is, is it challenges what we believe to be the face of ownership in America. 'cause if you live in a marginalized community, especially a black and brown community, many times you see people that don't look like you in your community owning everything around you, where you get your food, where you go get your clothes for your kids, you go out to dinner, but you've never seen that in reverse. You're never going into an all white community and saw black-owned bank. It challenges even how you even, like, how is that even possible? Right? Because that's not how we're programmed as Americans.

We're programmed as Americans to believe that white communities, everybody there who owns everything is white. And in minority communities, it could be anybody, could be, but in black communities especially. So what that goes to is what, what our friends at Goldman Sachs are talking about, you credit is like water where you see credit flow opportunity will grow or credit does not flow. The people who live in those communities do not get opportunity to take control of their destiny, their economic self-determination. It can't happen. So you have to always have an opportunity and eye towards supporting those businesses. But capital's only one part of it. Folks,

you want to help out a woman and minority owned business. Yes, give them access to capital, but more importantly give them access to customers. They can't just be reliant on the fragile economies of where they're located, but we have to change the face of who can own what in this country. And it begins with us stepping outside of the neighborhoods we live in and going and doing business in places where we know people are willing to not only support us with their words, but with their purse and their wallets.

Yeah. And understanding that the, the services that you're setting up, you know, whether it is someone who is white that set them up, or someone that is someone of color, right? It's, is it the service that is truly s giving me the need? Mm-hmm.

Right. And, and taking away some of that. But it, it's amazing that we still live in a place where a black-owned bank is a shock. Right. In Utah. Yeah. In Utah, in, I should say in Utah. Thank you. Yeah. We have to, we have to go through that. We have to be comfortable being uncomfortable, right? There you go.

Exactly. Yeah. Um, talking about the services that we set up, you know, Apple Card, um, is known for user-friendly services. Beth, can you talk a little bit about, uh, the interest education and how, you know, that can really drive the force for some of the underserved communities as well?

Yeah, very similar to what you shared at the beginning. Um, when I graduated college, I was in my twenties and I was working as a customer service rep at a regional bank. And, um, I had over $10,000 in credit card debt, and I made $30,000 a year. And you guys are really good at math, so you know that that's like a really bad situation to be in. And so, um, every day was like a constant struggle to think about, like, how was I paying my bills today? Because I, and, and that was, you know, part of the challenge too is like, I was didn't think about what, like is the, you know, a $5 purchase now becomes a $25 expense because of the interest that is charged on it.

And most customers don't understand that, particularly in their twenties. And I mean, I was like college educated. I had graduated from college and did not understand these, like, basic principles. And I think this is something that, you know, we, I I think generally speaking, we do a disservice by not educating kids better about simple financial matters. Like what is credit? How does it work, what do you do when you get this like, cool credit card that everybody takes, but you have to like pay a bill at every month with it. And so, um, you know, I found myself in that situation and I'm so glad for, you know, one or two people that really helped me and like helped me understand this was like my No. 1 priority was to pay off this debt. And luckily I was, um, you know, very privileged to be able to work and to be able to earn income and be able to pay, uh, that debt off. But it was, it was a rough road for a few years.

Um, but it really inspired me throughout my journey working in cu customer service, working with customers. Because during that time, I didn't talk to anybody. It wasn't like I was like confiding in my best friend about this mountain of debt that I had in front of me. And so I tell our customer service representatives, I'm like, you are so privileged to be able to speak to speak to customers when they have questions about their finances. It is a, the most vulnerable moment you could have when you're, something happens with your credit card with your bank and you don't know, you don't understand. Like, that is so, like, it is paralyzing in some cases. And to be able to be on the other end of that phone and to be a trusted expert and to say, I can help you. We can sort through this, I can help, like, we'll get it, we can fix this issue, um, is a really powerful thing.

And one of the things that, that has, like, that experience has driven for me is not just the way that I want our customer service to be, but I think also the way, um, that I wanna work, you know, with the products that I work, um, with. And so I've been really proud to work on products where we make it really transparent for customers. You know, when you make a payment, we tell you how much interest you're gonna pay if you haven't paid in full upfront before we charge the interest, we tell you what it's gonna be. Because it's so important for people to be educated and understand, and they may not have the finances to pay in full and that, you know, may be the choice that they're making, but at least it's an educated choice.

And it's not like my dumb 22-year-old choice where I'm like, oh, I'll buy $5 a Taco Bell and then pay a lot more for it down the road. Um, and so I just really think it's so important wherever we can, to help give that education to make sure that people know how they're using our products. I think Darrius spoke in the keynote earlier today and talked about the representative at USAA that was like, you do not need a $20,000 car loan. You need a bike. Go get a bike. like the more that we're able to do that for our customers, the better we are serving them. And it's an educational opportunity that frankly, they may not have. And I wished that I had had earlier in life instead of coming to it later.

You know, speaking of opportunities, um, you know, um, DIVINE, you've, you've really come through some, a lot of adversity and, and made some big changes. And when you founded Solvent, right? You, you've gone through, I have here Amazon's AWS Impact Accelerator, Village Capital's Innovations and Justice Tech fellowship programs that really does highlight your commitment to advancing social impact for those that are, um, have been, uh, formerly incarcerated. What do you see the, the collaboration between entrepreneurship, between technology and between Solvent's mission?

Yeah. Yeah. I've been through a lot of adversity. Um, eighth grade formal education, indicative incarceration, no tech background, still broken in one of the highest levels of Silicon Valley venture capital. And I set my life on the trajectory for certain success. And I say that because I'm somebody who was determined at a young age. I've always had, uh, a greater vision beyond myself, always had, uh, great insights. And I always took whatever was given to me and, and made a way, found a way.

So when my mother became addicted to crack cocaine during the early, uh, 80s crack epidemic, I had to turn to the streets. That's, that's what, that was my resources. And I had to hustle to survive. Unfortunately, that led me to being incarcerated at 19 years old in federal prison, um, way ahead of my time. Uh, but nevertheless, I knew that my life was destined for something greater.

And I never gave up. I never stopped believing in myself, and I never stopped striving or trying to figure it out. You can imagine at 13 years old, losing your mother to drugs, what that could do to you. And, uh, being incarcerated for 10 years, having a child in the streets with no father like I had, it's not, it's not an easy road. So every time I think about what I've accomplished, I always say to myself, I haven't accomplished enough because the problem still exists.

And that's why Solvent was so necessary. I was ahead of my time, five years ahead of my time when I started thinking about black, a black, a black, uh, empowerment platform to where we could help individuals who needed, who needed that type of, um, assistance and empowerment beyond just say, bank account and a debit card. You know, for me, sometimes I, I say banks are necessary evils in a sense that you give someone a bank account, you give 'em a debit card, they're not really empowerment tools, right?

Their focus really isn't empowering you. It's leveraging your capital so that they can make capital. And a lot of individuals don't really realize how that plays out. So when you, when you deposit your money, you are actually helping somebody in the community get a loan. So if I'm African American and I'm depositing my money in a, in a white-owned bank, white-controlled bank, what have you, um, my capital is going to loans to help other individuals who aren't like me. And I'm almost there. Mm-hmm.

I'm just amening You can.

Yeah. And, and, and if I go to a bank that's African American owned, I know that, okay, my dollar's making somewhat of a bigger difference, right? Empowering my community. So with Solvent, it was all about how do we, how do we not only hand someone a, a bank account and a debit card, but how do we hand them empowerment? How do we hand them financial literacy? And I think it went beyond a step.

I said entrepreneurship, education, a lot of individuals coming, coming, um, home from prison, hard to find jobs, right? They struggle with that. So entrepreneurship could be that role for them to create their own job and create job for other people like them. And there's no other platform, there's no other all in one platform in the way that we're building Solvent that exists. And again, I was five years ahead of my time, now you see a lot of these black neobank popping up. I had that idea five years before it even came, but I wasn't qualified enough. I wasn't a white male. I wasn't, I didn't go to Yale, I didn't go to Harvard. I didn't come outta Stanford. I didn't have a network of venture capitalists that I played golf with, right? So my idea was pushed away, right? Oh, it's a great story.

He broke into Silicon Valley. He's was formerly incarcerated, eighth grade, former education, self-taught, broke into tech. Yeah, great story. He always been featured in Forbes, black Enterprise Tech Crunch, you name it, old magazines. And I read while I was incarcerated and never thought I would be on those type of platforms. But I didn't have the background, I didn't have the formal education. I didn't have the high level network, right? So it was still a challenge. So my idea, five years early, we didn't get funded. Didn't get funded.

So since I have this very unique and untraditional way of how I broke into tech and why I'm here speaking on this panel is the same way. I'm gonna raise my money for my company very in a unique way and non-traditional way. It may not be that VC, right? Most likely for me. But I'm not gonna stop trying, I'm not gonna stop educating myself to learn how do these systems work and how do they work for me and how do they more importantly, work against me?

Systems is a big thing. So we say it's Solvent. Um, we're more than a bank account. We are more than a debit card. We're more than money. We're a system for systems change. And that's the power of what I'm creating because we're transforming people's lives in a real way. Not just give them a utility tool or a bank account or debit card for them to be able to efficiently move their money and have access to their money when they need it, but really empower them, as Beth was saying, with financial empowerment, resources, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, education, so that they can harness that and become great for themselves, for their families and for their communities.

And, and hopefully along the way, we, we break that barrier of that prove it again, bias. Right? Thank you.

Thank you. That's really powerful. You were gonna say something?

Well, just, just to, you know, to piggyback on what he's saying, you know, it's hard being a black business at all, getting access to capital 'cause people think when they see it that it's, uh, you have a great story and they're like, oh, that's great. They look at it as like charity. Um, black people wanna make money too. And so when we, so when we, when we go to market and we're meeting in front of VCs after time, it's just like, oh, they hit a story. They're like, oh, okay, well that's cool, you know, but, you know, let me send you to my foundation. But the reality is, with stories like his and so many black entrepreneurs that are out here trying to solve hard problems, he's right. We could fix everything wrong with this country.

If you just empower the people that you've done everything wrong to, fund them. And we can solve all of this. Don't feel like you gotta sit here and figure out, man, I gotta figure out how I gonna help these minorities and marginalized. It's not, it's not your problem. It's not our problem. It's, it is our problem. But you got people who got great ideas, but they can't get into the room.

And I can tell, you know, my, my co-founder of, of all my companies is Dr. Bernice A. King, the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. And we still have a hard time getting in the right rooms. When her father said that there is an inseparable twin in America of racial and economic injustice, meaning you cannot separate the two, you cannot have a conversation around racial injustice if you're not talking about economic injustice. They are tied. And so when we have these conversations about, you know, what in the tech world could be fixed, he hit it. At the end of the day, the my platform, your platform, Cash App, Venmo, all of that at the end of the day is, is sitting on top of a bank that's not controlled by the people that they're marketing to, which is why we bought Redemption.

Because there needs to be a bank. There's no reason for me to be sitting in New York with him. And we go to the barbershop and I'm paying my barber and my barber says, gimme Cash App.

But we all know Cash App spends millions of dollars on rap songs or R&B promotion every month. Every rapper we know talks about Cash App. So we've adopted it as a culture to say, oh, it's us. It's really not. That's fine. No offense to Cash App. Use it. Cool. What I'm saying is that it doesn't sit on top of the moment we send that money to my barber, it just left the black community. And when it's sitting in Cash App's bank somewhere in Ohio with a board that's got one woman on it, and all white males, but all the rap songs are playing out to our community. So all I'm saying is we're trying to create a bank so that, whether it's him or any other entrepreneur out there, we're a woman or minority entrepreneur. If you're trying to move money, you're trying to create value, it should sit at a bank that's actually doing the work.

So we call this impact banking, and you gotta ask yourself, are you banking impactfully when you leave here today? There is no way that you can ask yourself when you look at all the apps. We, most of us got more than one bank account. We all got that. At the end of the day, does your bank reflect your values?

And when you make investments, ask yourself, when's the last time you talked to a woman or black-owned founder about a business that's solving a hard problem? When's the last time you invested in a woman-owned business? And when we get the big corporations are doing it, but the reality is, these VC groups are the ones driving this stuff. And when you did meet with 'em, were you fair? If you can answer those questions in the affirmative, then you know that next year we'll have a better year as a, as a community, as a country. If all of us leave here making that the standard,

Thank you. I, you know, you've heard a lot of stories from us, right? Um, people who have experienced different adversities, um, got us to where we are today, even if we were raised with some form of privilege, because I guarantee you, all of you, all of us have some form of privilege. And it's understanding how do we use that privilege to drive change and do better. So I ask each of you to really think about your businesses, and as you're going into new markets or you're looking at new products, who are you truly trying to service? And do you have a bias in your mind about who that end user truly is and what the impact will be?

And if you don't take time to ask your customers about their experience and about their needs, you'll be in the same place you are today mm-hmm. Sure.. today, and your competitors are going to drive that change because someone will, and it may be being the first black-owned bank that comes in and drives that major change. Or it may be a formerly, um, incarcerated individual who made this amazing app that drove entrepreneurship and education around it, right? It could be all of these things to, to really, um, focus in and, and hone in on those changes. Um, do we have any time for a question? Okay.

We are out of time. But thank you so much for being here today, and thank you to my panelists. Um, it was, it was a pleasure speaking with you.

Thank you for having me.

Thank you.

View Full Transcript