The landscape and trajectory of the Black community has not been an easy one. The history of systemic discrimination has severely impacted Black people across the diaspora. However, resilience, determination, and an inner will to overcome made sure there was space for those who asked–and demanded to have a seat at the table.
Mastercard has committed to bridging the racial wealth and opportunity gap for Black communities, amplifying the voices of Black business owners, creators and changemakers through several programs, and partnering with organizations to provide educational resources that promote wealth building and financial security. The global payment technology company is investing their products, services, technology and financial support to increase economic opportunities for Black Americans.
The One Hundred Black Men organization (OHBM) and Wellthi are two organizations that Mastercard has partnered with that are making changes by altering the narrative regarding financial wellness in communities of color. While their pathways to financial wellness and stability are different, they have very similar goals in mind.
Mentoring A Community
OHBM is a non-profit 501c(3) organization of like-minded leaders who meet to advocate for improvement in conditions in their communities. The organization’s work leverages the collective talent of communities through the power of mentorship to foster economic development.
Doing this work, however, doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges. Valone Brown, Program Director for OHBM, noted that the evolving landscape of working with youth has encouraged the organization to take a nuanced approach with its program efforts specifically centered around mentorship.
“I know there are several young people who are like me— who aren’t going to be able to get access to some of the things that we do. Part of that could be not hearing about our program enough or not having the bandwidth to service everyone we want. We want to work with as many young people as possible, but it’s just impossible to do,” Brown said.
This challenge doesn’t change the imperative, but it amplifies the need to partner with organizations like Mastercard.
“Mastercard has an amazing partnership with OHBM. Over the last three years, we have provided financial education to hundreds of young men through our Master Your Card Program. Master Your Card is Mastercard’s community empowerment program aimed at achieving financial equity through access to education, resources, and best-in-class electronic payments technology,” Jimmy Chow, Director of Public Policy and Community Relations at Mastercard, said of the partnership.
The partnership between OHBM and Mastercard is one that reinforces the mission of providing access to financial wellness tools. When individuals are financially empowered, there is a sense of control that leads to a thriving personal life. According to a US census statistic included in Mastercards’ research on prosperity among Black consumers, Black families only make up 4% of the nation’s wealth. A major part of that disparity is due to a lack of access to resources and tools that can contribute to wealth creation. This partnership further connects and empowers an inclusive digital economy that benefits everyone.
A Different Level Of Access
Another changemaker in the financial wellness space is the team at Wellthi.
Based on a diverse worldview as a former United States Diplomat and the traditional savings habits of her grandmother, Fonta Gilliam founded Wellthi to formalize the concept of social finance and reintroduce it to banking.
“We’re really trying to change the game in terms of wealth building and really help people rethink how they build wealth and do it better together. And so we’re partnering with some of the biggest players in financial services like Mastercard to offer a solution where people can go in, have a safe space to talk about their finances, and then access Wellthi through any mobile banking account, any mobile banking app in the world, starting first in the United States,” Gilliam explained.
But what is Wellthi exactly? It is an embedded community savings app and wallet that people can access inside any mobile banking app, similar to Zelle. Patrons also have the opportunity to use Wellthi to get an experience that feels like social networking inside your banking app, where the person can post and engage in various groups based on different financial goals.
What makes Wellthi so unique is the community aspect. Connecting with like-minded people who understand and can support your aspirations is game-changing. And the innovative approach makes Mastercard a perfect partner in amplifying the work Gilliam is doing.
“With Mastercard, we were coming in very early as a FinTech, and they gave us access to the secret sauce…introducing us to the right players —people like Rashida Bobb, Director of Start Path [at Mastercard, a program that supports start-ups by giving them access and opportunity with Mastercard’s global network] — by getting me in the room with people and pitching. So they would take on our product at a very early stage. That was key,” Gilliam explained.
In addition to technical and product-building resources, Mastercard also provided PR and marketing support that assisted Wellthi in building the company’s reach.
Empowerment At The Core
Whether through the technology that Gilliam has built or through the more in-person community approach of OHBM, one thing is clear: access to resources coupled with the power of a thriving community is one vital tactic to financial empowerment. When people can learn a skill that speaks to improving their quality of life and do it in a way that uplifts those around them, the possibilities for the future are endless. OHBM and Wellthi are actively doing their part in that communal mission.
“Our communities do well when we do things together, when we empower each other, when we share, when we partner. And I would tell people to leverage and follow your community. It’s okay to ask questions and figure out, ‘Yo, how did you do this? And what can I learn from it?’ It’s okay to pull resources,” Gilliam said.Click here to learn more about the work Mastercard is doing to uplift communities and increase financial wellness through its Start Path program.