GREENWOOD 2-04

16 October 2020

Greenwood, a digital bank designed to empower Black and Latinx consumers, launched in the US this month. Started by rapper Michael “Killer Mike” Render, Greenwood aims to ensure communities of color can accrue wealth and combat systematic oppression. The neobank additionally positions itself as an alternative to traditional banks, which have been known to reject low-income applicants or charge Black and Latinx consumers more for financial services. Greenwood offers debit cards, spending and saving accounts, money transfers, mobile deposits, fee-free ATM usage, and app-based payment options; the company plans to offer loans in the future. Greenwood also works with social organizations to provide meals to those in need, support Black education and empowerment, fund small businesses, and more. 

Most socially conscious, in-the-know brands today are speaking out about racism. Reaffirming their commitments to diversity. Posting their bold statements – a la Uber’s “If you tolerate racism, delete Uber”, Nike’s “Don’t do it” – and black squares. 

But, of course, the benefits of ‘speaking out’ aren’t usually measurable. Black leaders are reminding us that the most tangible way to help communities of color is to open our wallets – not just our mouths. After all, most structural inequality remains due to a lack of funds being directed towards both the public and personal resources consumers need to empower themselves or improve their circumstances. For example, in the US, the fact that Black communities are underfunded contributes to food deserts (a shortage of affordable, healthy food in an area), fewer educational opportunities, racial wealth gaps and more. So investing in communities, or tackling any unnecessary (and oppressive) financial barriers these groups face, in turn helps tackle a myriad of other issues. 

To wrap this up, we’ll leave you with a simple assessment from entrepreneur Monique Woodard: “Over-mentored and under-invested.” Here, Woodard is referring to how Black startup founders are being treated by VC firms, but we think her statement applies more widely. Rather than simply offering advice, guidance, or a message of ‘empowerment’, what can your brand do to address the (monetary) roots of systematic oppression? Get inspired by how the 15 Percent Pledge convinced beauty megabrand Sephora to stock 15% of its inventory from Black-owned brands, J.P. Morgan’s USD 30 billion commitment to equality, and how Greenwood gives consumers of color access to an equitable banking system. What financial action can you take today?

Stay healthy,

The TrendWatching content team