Black Fintech Founders Are Innovating Across the Board
The startup world is one that pushes the boundaries and disrupts the traditional. However, when it comes to VC funding, there’s still a long way to go for Black founders looking to raise capital. In 2022, Black startup founders in the US raised only 1% of funding, even less than they did in 2021. And it’s not because there isn’t innovation flowing from Black founders.
In fintech, disruption often supports financial inclusion – an initiative with the potential to transform Black communities that have been historically excluded from traditional finance channels in the US. While many Black-founded fintechs aim to close the racial wealth gap, there are many promoting financial empowerment in other ways.
This Black History Month, we’re celebrating Black innovation and achievement in fintech. We’ve highlighted 10 companies solving age-old problems in new ways. From crypto to digital banking for gen z to a new way to pay for airline tickets, Black entrepreneurs are taking fintech to new heights.
These are 10 Black-founded fintechs you should follow this month and beyond:
- Guava – Founded by Kelly Ifill, Guava is more than a digital bank – it’s a community builder that supports small, Black-owned businesses. In addition to features like bill payment, fund transfers, and account management, the app connects entrepreneurs to free financial tools and a network of peers and experts that help members “feel seen, supported, and celebrated on [their] entrepreneurship journey.” Guava recognizes that financial support is strengthened by community support, and that’s what makes this fintech stand out.
- Airfordable – In college – despite budgeting and credit card access – the cost of airfare to visit her native Ghana was prohibitive for co-founder and CEO, Ama Marfo. Marfo, along with co-founder Emmanuel Buah, set out to change that when they founded Airfordable. The platform allows travelers to book airfare and pay it off in installments before the departure date – they just pay a one-time booking service fee. Once it’s paid for, the e-ticket information is accessible within the app. With few installment or BNPL options for airfare available today, Airfordable is a game changer.
- Guapcoin – Guapcoin, “cryptocurrency for the Culture,” was created to amplify the economic voice of the Black community, specifically members of the Global African Diaspora. Faced with economic and political barriers that widen the wealth gap, Guapcoin was founded by Tavonia Evans and aims to build economic power within the community through the use of decentralized finance and crypto-centric financial education. The company provides an innovative approach to financial inclusion and generational wealth building.
- Capway – Explore Capway’s website and you’ll find a wealth of resources to help customers, well, grow and manage their wealth. Catered toward Millennials and Gen Z, Sheena Allen’s digital banking platform offers tools like “Facts and Hacks” on credit card basics, how to file your taxes for free, and more – like easily digestible infographics and a blog post on musician Lil Nas X’s financial journey. They’ve also started an initiative called Culture Meets money, which focuses on financial empowerment for the Black community, including an internship program at the company itself. Capway is a fintech that understands its user base and meets them where they are.
- Fizz – For Gen Zs in college who have little to no credit, Fizz is the perfect ally. During their time together as college students, co-founders Scott Smith, Carlo Kobe, and Moritz Pail were “terrified” to learn that 90% of 18-20 year olds are credit invisible. The fintech takes an innovative approach to credit building by providing lines of credit tied to a user’s bank account balance. The autopay feature allows Fizz to pay itself back each month from the connected account, boosting your credit “without the risk of getting screwed over by credit cards.” With added bonuses like campus rewards and a student ambassador program, becoming creditworthy has never been easier.
- MoCaFi – MoCaFi’s full name – Mobility Capital Finance – gives you a summary of the fintech’s core pillars. Founded by Wole Coaxum, MoCaFi is “committed to closing the wealth gap for Black, Latinx, and all communities disconnected from the mainstream economy.” How? By taking an individual and structural approach. The app helps individuals open a bank account and access a debit card, boost credit through rent payments, and leverage personalized wealth planning technology. On the structural side, MoCaFi supports the growth of Black and Latinx-owned small businesses in their network by rewarding cash back to cardholders who shop there. They also partner with cities and organizations across the US to offer prepaid cards that aid the community during crises or even as a part of Universal Basic Income programs. The company’s dual approach to financial inclusion shows how fintechs can truly make a difference.
- EnrichHER – SMB funding can be difficult, and especially so for women and people of color (POC). EnrichHER connects women and POC-owned businesses to the loans they need through funding partners or a grant, all done through the platform. Founders can also access coaching and community as a part of their funding package. Dr. Roshawnna Novellus launched EnrichHer because she recognized the reality of biased lending structures that often left women and founders of color with nowhere to turn to grow their business, despite proven track records. Today, she’s fighting institutionalized inequity and working to close wealth gaps. We look forward to watching as she moves closer to her goal of supporting 100k businesses across the US.
- Mozaic.io – The creator economy is here to stay, and Mozaic.io is tapping in the need for simplified global payments and automatic earning splits for teams and collaborators. The idea for the platform was born from co-founder Marcus Cobb’s years spent in the music industry, during which he saw the creatives and collaborators in the booth get cut out of royalties, payment, and credits. Mozaic.io handles it all, but now it’s not just for music (though royalty splits and contracts are a core feature). The platform supports creators on Twitch, YouTube, TikTok and anywhere creatives are, all around the globe.
- Meter Feeder – Navigating parking meters is a headache – some are digitized, some still take coins, and some send you across the street to get a ticket from a different machine! Meter Feeder partners with municipalities to make metered parking easy for individuals and collecting payment simple for parking enforcement. Users can pay for parking through the app (geolocation tells it where you’re parking), and re-up if they need more time. Ticket payments can also be made through Meter Feeder. For municipalities, the fintech provides parking enforcement hardware and software to manage payments and ticketing.
- OneUnited Bank – OneUnited Bank is a groundbreaker – it’s the first Black digital bank and largest Black-owned bank in the US. The bank strives to offer affordable financial services for all, while promoting financial literacy in Black communities to close the racial wealth gap. They offer personal banking, business banking, online banking, and lending, but with a twist: the checking account is called Black Wall Street Checking. Save with BankBlack Savings and get the UNITY credit card to go with your Unapologetically Black debit card. Along with the community-oriented branding, OneUnited is also “a designated Community Development Financial Institution, serving low to moderate income communities.” That means they are reinvesting wealth back into the underrepresented communities it serves.
Achieving Financial Empowerment
Whether it’s at an individual level or taking on institutionalized inequity, Black-owned fintechs are changing the world. Closing the racial wealth gap is a lofty goal, but tech, education, and community will help lead not only to financial inclusion, but financial empowerment.
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