Watching a group of people form their first Lending Circle is an inspiring experience, especially when that group will go on to form more Lending Circles in their own community. My colleagues, Mohan, John, and I trained staff members at the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) and Central City Neighborhood Partners (CCNP) in Los Angeles, two new partners who will be offering our Lending Circles program.
These partnerships have been almost eight months in the making after Mohan first met with Andrew Chang from the Center for Asset Building Opportunities (CABO), who introduced Lending Circles to his network of 10 asset-building nonprofit partners.
“My goal was for MAF to come and expand their products and services to the populations and communities we serve in LA,” Chang said.
MAOF, based in Montebello, California, is one of the largest Latino nonprofits in the country and is celebrating its 51st year of supporting the socio-economic betterment of Latinos in California. MAOF offers programs in education, asset-building, youth education and senior services. Lending Circles’ credit-building opportunity fit a tangible need for the organization’s clients. Many of MAOF’s clients have been living in the US for more than 5 years and are somewhat acclimated to the financial system but still find it hard to completely access.
CCNP is a nonprofit collaborative working to provide social services for children, families and communities in LA to break the cycle of poverty. The organization has been involved in a number of community economic development campaigns such as Bank On LA to connect unbanked residents to affordable financial services and Lending Circles is a great example of a program that clients can use once they have opened up bank accounts.
Seven staff members came together with different financial goals from paying off debt, improving their credit, saving for a house and preparing for retirement.
Many of the them had participated in an informal lending circle or were aware of their existence from their cultural experiences. The credit-building aspect was intriguing for the members and they all were looking forward to the ability to improve their scores.
During the training, Mohan explained the enrollment, recruitment and formation process for Lending Circles and guided the staff through scenarios they could encounter when facilitating the program with their clients. Moving forward, our partner trainings will be done online through webinars and presentations in our Lending Circles Communities platform, but it was really great to have an in-person connection with the MAOF and CCNP staff members and share best practices together. I also got a chance to talk to MAOF’s marketing director to plan future storytelling and engagement opportunities to spread the word about the program.
The Lending Circles program has been operating in in LA for two years through our partnership with the Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California. We’re excited to welcome these two outstanding organizations to the Lending Circles network.
Working with MAOF and CCNP will allow us to reach new communities of aspiring car owners, citizenship applicants, entrepreneurs, students and families who want to tackle their debt and lay the foundation for increased financial capability.
Nesima Aberra is the Marketing Associate and New Sector Fellow at Mission Asset Fund. She loves storytelling, social good and a good cup of tea. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.