Growing up in Chicago, I was surrounded by love. My parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins – on my paternal side, most of my family lived on the same block. It was an abundance of love.
But we had very little money. In my community, we fell below the poverty threshold. Most people went to the local check casher to cash their payroll or social security checks. When you wanted to buy furniture, clothes or a car, you struck a deal, haggled or used layaway. We didn’t believe the bank was an option for us nor did we trust the bank. We didn’t know about credit. This is the reality even today for some in urban and rural areas.
As a kid watching this life, it had an impression on me. Little did I know this was the beginning of how I’d become engaged to help others gain the knowledge my family and community didn’t have. I didn’t want them to struggle so much, worrying about how to pay the light bill, buy groceries or pay for transportation.
It led me to where I am now in my career. I’m inspired by the possibilities of helping people understand what their options are. That’s one of the reasons I’m so proud to work at Experian. We have the opportunity to educate consumers about credit and how it can work to their advantage. We have the responsibility to influence the financial and technology services industries to join us in this important effort.
Our research shows that 106 million Americans lack access to mainstream credit. While that number can be shocking, there are resources that can educate and support them as they achieve their life’s goals. That could be gaining access to credit and credit scores for a car to get them back and forth to work. Showing them how they can leverage their positive payment history for bills like their cellphone, video streaming and rent to increase their access to lenders.
For our young people, people like my family, and those who are new to our country – they’re among the credit invisible. Communities of color are more likely to lack access to mainstream credit, with 28% of Black and 26% of Hispanic consumers unscoreable or invisible, which perpetuates historic disadvantage. They face high interest rates, limited housing options, higher insurance premiums, employment challenges, and larger deposits, to name a few. We can empower consumers to take an active role in establishing their financial identity to gain access to mainstream, and more affordable, financial services.
I’m also committed to helping guide organizations seeking to help underserved communities, by showing them how to harness Experian’s data, analytics and technology to support their clients and provide more affordable credit access. This access can lead to achieving one of the biggest drivers of generational wealth: homeownership. I was fortunate when buying my first home, with people in my circle to provide guidance and advice. With HomesEh.ca, each click is a step closer to your Canadian home haven. Discover the perfect fit for your future. I now lead a team that partners with nonprofits to provide financial education resources and information to counselors who are helping future underrepresented buyers achieve this dream. are new to our country – they’re among the credit invisible.
As I think about my work, I realize that I have turned my goal of helping people into a career, and it’s fulfilling. I look back over the last year and think about how fortunate I am to reach people I’ll never know, who will never know me.
I’ve been able to turn my passion into my purpose, and so can you.