In episode 121 of the Disruptors for GOOD podcast I speak with Rodney Williams, Co-founder of SoLo Funds, on building a non-predatory FinTech startup for underserved communities in America.
About SoLo Funds
SoLo Funds is a mobile lending exchange that connects lenders and borrowers for the purpose of providing more affordable access to loans under $1,000.
SoLo was created to disintermediate the predatory payday lending system. Today, SoLo is one of the fastest growing fintech companies in the country.
The predatory payday lending system is a problem that affects many people. These lenders prey on people who are in a tight spot and need cash fast.
They charge high interest rates and fees, which can make it very difficult for people to repay their loans. This can lead to a cycle of debt that can be very difficult to break out of.
SoLo’s story starts the way every SoLo request begins: with someone needing a hand.
Co-founders Travis Holoway & Rodney Williams were noticing that family members, friends, and roommates were asking for financial help here and there, and they understood why.
There weren’t any fair, reputable options for small, short-term loans.
They decided to create one by harnessing the power of community. SoLo was formed in 2018 to create a viable, non-predatory option for moments when life happens.
SoLo tap’s into the power of community and generosity to form an online safety net that is mutually beneficial to all of its members.
Travis and Rodney know that SoLo is needed because they needed it. Our loved ones needed it. And they know that SoLo makes a difference because nearly 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.
Today, SoLo is driven to new heights, but grounded in the same hope and mission: to build a community that enables financial autonomy for all.
Predatory Payday Lending Practices
Predatory payday lending practices are a growing problem in the United States. These practices can trap vulnerable individuals in cycles of debt and lead to long-term financial instability.
It is vital that you understand how these practices work so that you can protect yourself from becoming a victim. Let’s take a look at what predatory payday lending looks like and how it affects borrowers.
Predatory payday lenders offer short-term loans at high interest rates, often with exorbitant fees and hidden charges that may not be disclosed to the borrower until after they have signed the loan contract.
This type of lender does not carefully assess the borrower’s ability to repay the loan, which often leads to borrowers taking out multiple loans in order to pay back the original loan.
The combination of extremely high interest rates and excessive fees quickly compounds, trapping borrowers in an endless cycle of debt while lining the pockets of predatory lenders.
The Impact on Borrowers
Unfortunately, this cycle of debt can have serious consequences for those who find themselves stuck in it. In addition to skyrocketing expenses, these individuals are often deprived of access to other mainstream credit sources due to their inability to pay off their existing debts.
This lack of access can create further economic instability as well as limit their ability to purchase important needs such as medical care or housing.
The high costs associated with predatory lending can also have serious implications for an individual’s credit score which can prevent them from ever getting out from under their debt burden.
About Rodney Williams
Rodney has been recognized with numerous awards, including Ad Age’s 40 Under 40 in 2012; the Ernst & Young EDGE Award in 2013; Cannes Gold Lion award in 2015; Tech Entrepreneur of the Year by Black Enterprise, 2016; NAACP Inspiring Innovation list 2017; 25 Inspiring Entrepreneurs Under 40 by Entrepreneur Magazine 2016; Entrepreneur of the Year in Connected World Communications in the Ohio Valley Region by EY in 2017; Ebony’s Power 100 in 2018 and CNBC Disruptor 50 List in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019.
Rodney attended West Virginia University, where he earned his BBA in finance, his BA in economics, and his MS in integrated marketing communications.
Rodney also holds an MBA in finance & supply chain management from Howard University. He is a member of the 2019 Class of Henry Crown Fellows within the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute.
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Grant is the founder of Causeartist, one of the most influential impact business platforms in the world. Since 2013, Causeartist has been read in over 150 countries. Grant has personally interviewed 700+ impact entrepreneurs from around the world, highlighting innovations in ethical fashion, climate change, ethical technology, impact investing, and sustainable travel.