The wealth gap is real, especially when it comes to Black women. Closing the gap is the primary goal of a solution called Ese, that’s focused on improving the financial lives of those in the community. Ese is the first financial solution specifically designed for black women.
Developed in partnership with Essence and SoLo Funds, Ese has a name inspired by the Adinkra concept of Ese Ne Tekrema, a symbol of interdependence, friendship, advancement, improvement, and growth. It’s a perfect name when you consider what Ese offers.
Ese members can set their terms for an emergency loan in just a few clicks. In turn, loan requests go to a marketplace where other members can choose a loan to fund and make a return.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Ese is its ease of use. Everyone is welcome, and there’s no approval process. Members requesting a loan select a loan amount, payback date, and optional tip as appreciation for the lender. Besides receiving a modest return, those who lend to other members do so knowing they are helping Black women in times of need.
Although Ese is relatively new, the SoLo Funds marketplace is not. The only Black-owned fintech B Corp in the United States and Canada, SoLo Funds launched in 2018. It’s the leading finance platform that’s focused on economically disadvantaged Americans, and rooted in equity, empowerment, and community.
Why This Matters to You
In 2021, Goldman Sachs released a distressing survey showing that America’s Black women hold 90% less wealth than American White men. Further, over a 40-year career, Black women lose over $950,000 to the wage gap. Black women take on more student debt on average than members of any other group. And of this group, 57% say they cannot meet basic expenses. Sadly, this disparity is present throughout a Black woman’s life and affects everything from health to education to housing.
Ese is on a mission to make it easier for Black women who are financially struggling. And because Ese is a community finance platform, members can give back when they can by funding others.
Starting with Ese requires a quick sign up on EseFunds.com. A big part of the process is verifying a new user’s identity and cash flow, which protects the member and the community. The three-part verification process includes providing basic identifying information, and connecting their external bank account and debit card. There’s no credit check. Instead, borrowing members are assigned what’s called a SoLo Score, a proprietary risk measure developed by SoLo Funds, the fintech company behind Ese. The SoLo Score is based on a member’s activity within the app and a cash flow analysis.
Once the process is completed (it takes only a few minutes), the new member can request a loan or become a first-time lender and make an immediate social impact. Borrowers can request up to $575 on their terms.
The fine print
What’s the catch for requesting a loan through Ese? There isn’t one. Loans enabled through Ese include 0% interest and no APR, with borrowers choosing voluntary tips and donations vs mandatory fees. In addition, there are no subscription fees, transaction fees, or expedition fees. However, modest fees do apply for late paybacks. If you can’t tell by now, Ese is not the same as other financial institutions. They want to help you, not take away from you.
Ese and SoLo aren’t lenders. In fast, 100% of all funds are from individual lending members. Whether a loan is funded is based on a member’s SoLo Score, repayment history, and the reason for the request. Like similar offerings, borrowing members can’t have a negative balance when requesting a loan.
Ese is all about improving the financial lives of Black women. On the surface Ese’s focus is lending and borrowing, but it’s much bigger than just that. Lending members are given the opportunity to grow their capital. Today, funds that sit in larger financial institutions aren’t gaining significant yield. Ese’s lending members have the opportunity to produce industry best returns, all while helping others. On the borrowing side, this solution means Black women can lean on their community for options when they need a lifeline. This is significant because Black women are the #1 users of personal loan products that cause significant debt amongst this community. This is just the beginning. The next 12 months will include the launch of other credit products, credit builders, insurance solutions and banking services, all designed by the community and for Black women.