Press release: Acumen America Makes Its First Financial Inclusion Investment Under New Partnership With Metlife Foundation
Thursday, January 11, 2018
Acumen, the nonprofit global venture fund, today announced its first financial inclusion investment under its Acumen America portfolio. Launched in 2016, Acumen America invests in social enterprises addressing the problems of poverty in the United States with a focus on the sectors of health care, workforce development and financial inclusion.
There are nearly 47 million people living in poverty in the U.S. Roughly 43 percent of Americans struggle to pay their bills, and many more face volatility in their lives despite working full-time jobs. Current financial offerings tend to be expensive and do not fulfill the needs of low-income populations. Acumen’s financial inclusion portfolio will focus on innovative products and services that build economic resilience and financial strength for low-income Americans.
“The wealth gap is larger than it has ever been,” said Amon Anderson, Associate Director of Acumen America. “Acumen is building a portfolio of companies leveraging technology for lower costs and exploring innovative design and distribution channels to reach low-income communities with high-quality financial services. We are working toward a world of greater financial stability, protection and prosperity for Americans traditionally underserved.”
Acumen America’s first investment, EarnUp, is a consumer-first platform that helps people optimally manage and pay down their debt. Consumer debt in the U.S is at a record high with roughly 200 million Americans burdened with debt from student loans, mortgages, credit cards and more. With more than 60 percent of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, low-income citizens struggle to pay off debt in an opaque and complex loan payment system. High-debt burdens, which increase the likelihood of default and higher interest rates, disproportionately affect low-income families and households of color, exacerbating the challenge of establishing financial health and stability.
“Acumen is a global pioneer in delivering financial empowerment to low-income communities,” said Nadim Homsany, Co-Founder and President of EarnUp. “We are honored to partner with Acumen and Metlife Foundation to continue the vital work of delivering technology solutions to transform the financial lives of underserved Americans.
EarnUp consolidates a person’s loans in one place and makes their payments for them in a manner that reduces outstanding debt at the fastest rate possible. The platform also aligns each person’s loan payments with his or her income schedule, eliminating the significant stress of budgeting limited resources, and puts a few dollars aside for future payments whenever the person can afford it. Since its launch in 2015, EarnUp has helped Americans manage over $1 billion in consumer loans.
Acumen America’s financial inclusion portfolio is solely supported by MetLife Foundation, which was founded on the belief that everyone needs access to the right financial tools to achieve their goals. MetLife Foundation, which works in both developed and developing economies to expand and improve financial services, awarded Acumen America with a $5 million grant to advance its investment work in financial inclusion.
“Impact investing, combined with philanthropic support to organizations dedicated to building greater financial stability and protection for underserved, lower-income individuals and communities, are important ways that MetLife Foundation can make a sustained impact in communities,” said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “We’re excited to partner with Acumen America on building this important portfolio of innovative companies.”
Photo courtesy of John Twohig.