Originally published on MarketWatch
"When you hear "It's Time For Change" or any news from us, we want you to be as excited as we are... because we're not playing any games. We're here to create lasting change, right now!"
B.C. Silver is the President of Digital Banking and Chief Executive Officer of Change Finance. Change Finance is one of five businesses within The Change Company, a designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). B.C. joined The Change Company in 2021, bringing almost 20 years of previous experience in global marketing and sales. His executive roles include VP, Senior VP, CMO, and now, President. With each position, B.C. brings his creative leadership and passion for empowering underserved communities.
In his role with The Change Company, B.C. leverages his drive for equality and social justice to lead a business dedicated to providing banking services to the "underbanked." Though B.C. is based in the Los Angeles area, he is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. He was orphaned at age 10 and grew up noticing that many communities in the United States are excluded from banking and financial services. B.C. witnessed how this type of oppression contributes to the wealth gap for lower-income, Black, and Latino Americans. His personal drive for equality is a guiding principle of Change Finance's mission to lend over $2 billion for Black and Latino homeownership in 2021.
Prior to joining The Change Company, B.C. founded GRIND Finance in 2019, a Black-owned debit card and mobile banking company based in Los Angeles. GRIND's mission is to provide tools and resources to create financial opportunities for underserved communities, and under B.C.'s leadership, it established over 40,000 accounts in its first year.
At Change Finance, B.C. strives to offer the same quality of financial resources and homeownership opportunities to a population of traditionally underserved Americans. Considered to be an agent of change, B.C.'s work creates access to financial opportunities for Black and Latino communities in Los Angeles and across the country.
In a recent interview with B.C. Silver, we get an inside look at The Change Company and his involvement. The Change Company is making massive efforts to close the wealth gap and empower Black, Latino, and underserved communities. Of U.S. households, 18.7 percent (24.2 million) were underbanked, meaning that the household had a checking or savings account, but also obtained financial products and services outside of the banking system. By providing equal access to the financial tools these communities need, The Change Company seeks to reshape banking, lending, and financial support to them.
It's clear that recent events have exposed the need for equality across banking and lending; was The Change Company in the works before, say 2020? Or did the last year serve as the launching catalyst for The Change Company?
"The need for equality isn't anything new to me or us as an organization. As a Black man, systemic racism has been a part of my entire life — and is the reason I have dedicated my career to helping the communities I come from. The Change Company has been an advocate for racial and social equity in lending since its inception in 2017. I'm honored and proud to be a part of a company that is dedicated to disrupting banking and lending by helping Black, Latino, and additional overlooked families and business owners."
How does The Change Company (and/or ChangeFi) aim to help close the racial wealth gap in America?
"A key focus for us is to help close the racial wealth gap through homeownership. Currently, Black homeownership is at an all-time low, so we recently launched a Black Homeownership Initiative in partnership with Netflix. Our partners at Netflix donated $10M toward Black Homeownership. As an organization, The Change Company is committed to contributing a total of $2 Billion to help drive Black Homeownership. We're also developing additional financial solutions to help consumers on their path to financial freedom."
With the racial wealth gap being such a historic and systemic problem in our country, how is The Change Company able to break from that system in a way that other financial institutions have not? Is it just the will to do so? Or are there legal hoops to jump through?
"As America's CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution), we partner with socially responsible organizations and investors to launch initiatives that drive real change to address the racial wealth gap. Our CDFI designation enables us to offer unique products and services that meet the needs of diverse communities. We break through systemic racism by having a single mission as an organization, and we have no greater priority than to serve the communities we stand for."
How do you plan to reach those underbanked communities and what goals have you set in place in 2021 in terms of loans approved or other similar metrics?
"It's simple. We have to be willing to listen to our members and learn from them to develop products and solutions that best meet their needs. It's also important for us to maintain a presence in the communities that we serve — we have to be where our members are in order to build real relationships and drive real change. From a metrics standpoint, success is measured from the overall amount that we are investing in the community — How many homes are we refinancing? How many community loans are we providing? How many mortgages are we financing? If we're able to help one new family every single day, I'd call that a win. At the end of the day, it's all about the families and individuals we serve."
What else would you like people to know about The Change Company and ChangeFi?
"The Change Company has financed over $25 Billion in loans since our CDFI certification and served over 100,000 families, with the majority being Black, Latino, and other underbanked borrowers. I want everyone to understand: We really walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Our goal is to not only give hope to underserved communities but we will continue to do so through action, with an emphasis on providing best-in-class technology that we can all use right now.
"What makes The Change Company unique is that we have several lines of business that can empower our members throughout their financial journey – wherever they may be. From Change Home Loans that make the dream of homeownership possible for anyone through traditional and nontraditional mortgage products, to ChangeFi (an online banking solution that levels the playing field for Black, Latino, and additional overlooked communities by bringing social and racial equity to mobile banking), to Change Lending that offers small business, renovation, and real estate investor loans to help expand minority business ownership in America.
"We also have Change Escrow and Change Appraisal to ensure our members work with a qualified appraiser who is knowledgeable about their specific neighborhood and is able to provide an accurate valuation of their property. And finally, we have xChange — an online marketplace for socially responsible investors who are searching for loans that will increase social and racial equity."
In addition to his remarkable dedication to the cause of financial empowerment, B.C. has considerable experience managing multi-million-dollar budgets for Fortune 500 companies. After receiving his MBA from the University of Tennessee, he accepted a role with Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 2002. During his eight-year tenure with P&G, B.C. and his team led sales and marketing initiatives for brands such as Tide, CoverGirl, and Old Spice. In 2010, he joined the Clorox Company as the National Strategy Director where he managed brand portfolios for household name products, such as Glad and OdorShield for four years. Later, in 2015, B.C. joined Mars as the Senior Director of Marketing & Strategic Planning, and in 2017, he joined the Green Dot Corporation.
At Green Dot, one of the largest prepaid debit card companies in the world, he quickly advanced from the VP of Digital Marketing & Account Acquisition to President and General Manager of the Consumer Division after Green Dot's acquisition of RushCard. B.C. deployed innovative digital and social media strategies and, as a result, revolutionized Green Dot’s online and mobile presence. B.C.'s experience at Green Dot largely contributed to his current role as President of Change Finance and his reputation as the seasoned Fintech executive he is today.
Outside of his role with Change Finance, B.C. serves on the Board of Directors for Rent-A-Center, mentors at-risk youth with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and volunteers with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). And in 2019, B.C. chose to further his education by joining the postgraduate program for international business and fintech at Harvard Business School. B.C. is a community-minded business leader in pursuit of aiding those who are often overlooked by financial institutions.
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