What does it mean to succeed in the business world?
The traditional definition of success usually entails a corporate structure based on earnings and earnings alone, without much thought put into what’s been given back. This model tends to think of a company’s mission and profit margin as being mutually exclusive.
At Sunrise, we believe the opposite: By being mission-focused and helping others, companies can do even better financially — mission times margin.
This belief is what prompted Sunrise CEO David Reiling to write his new book, Fintech4Good. The book chronicles five financial technology entrepreneurs who saw issues of economic inequality first-hand and created products to fix them.
Touching on the student loan crisis, credit-building roadblocks for refugees and the lack of small-loan options for the average American, Fintech4Good explores financial technology (fintech) and its myriad possibilities to affect positive change.
So what challenges can fintech help solve?
One is providing access to small-dollar loans for those who don’t have money saved for emergencies. A majority of Americans, 70 percent, have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts.
Even worse, many of those without the resources will turn to payday lenders — which now outnumber McDonalds restaurants in the U.S. — and be charged exorbitant interest rates.
The solution, as Reiling states in Fintech4Good, is TrueConnect. TrueConnect is a fintech that provides small-dollar loans to employees who need cash to pay for emergency situations.
Student loan debt is another issue, now accounting for more than $1.5 trillion in the United States. In Fintech4Good, Reiling introduces us to Peanut Butter, a fintech that offers student loan assistance to employees.
A lack of emergency funds and the student loan crisis make up only two chapters in Fintech4Good, but they both serve as prime examples of the financial troubles faced around the world and the ways that fintech can help.
Fintech as a Solution
When people think of new technology they often think of “disruption,” or a paradigm shift that flips current practice on its head. Reiling and Sunrise favor “responsible innovation” that gives back rather than takes away.
In order to empower communities through financial wellness, fintechs need to meet consumers somewhere in the middle. And that’s what the five companies chronicled in Fintech4Good do — they create products that are profitable but still help the underserved.
“I wrote Fintech 4 Good to highlight how certain trailblazers in the financial industry are using technology to solve some important financial challenges and issues. These stories are compelling and empowering because most of them are sparked by issues the founders faced,” said Reiling.