Sawa Credit Inc. Founder Challenges His Stanford Graduate Business School Class To Address Wealth Inequality
OAKLAND, CA / ACCESSWIRE / August 29, 2022 / Sawa Credit Inc. aims to solve the problem of wealth inequality in America through a first-of-its-kind community financial support technology platform. Fittingly, its first funds came from its community. The fintech startup’s founder, Charles Phillips, was backed by members of his 1999 Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) class. More than 150 of his Stanford MBA classmates formed a group called Allies99 to meet regularly to address systemic racism. Sawa Credit Inc. emerged from those meetings, and members of the class of 99 funded its first $400,000 of equity, which led to a $3 million seed round and attracted Sawa’s board members, including Michael Spence, co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences and former dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business; David Brady, Deputy Director and Davies Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution; and Brian Trelstad, Partner at Bridges Fund Management’s Sustainable Growth Fund and co-chair of the Impact Capital Managers.
Allies99 helps Sawa Credit Inc., takes on gross, systemic racial inequity
Allies99 was born out of the desire and need to do something productive in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. Members of the MBA class formed the group to create meaningful advances in racial equity and justice and met regularly to discuss solutions to social problems. “I asked my former classmates to stop just talking about social problems and act instead by pulling together the resources to build a real platform to help the underserved build wealth with homeownership,” says Phillips.
“Charles was deeply concerned with the systemic reinforcers of the wealth gap in America, and rightfully so,” says Peter Biro, co-founder of Allies99, who (with another classmate) set up a funding vehicle so his classmates could invest. “Charles had heard a lot of lip service and saw signs on lawns to address social problems, but not enough people were digging in and doing the hard work to solve wealth disparity.” Through this vehicle, Phillips’ classmates made individual investments in Sawa from $5,000 to $50,000, totaling more than $400,000.
“Stanford’s community is collegial and supportive. They taught us that if you want to be successful, bring others along with you. You need relationships,” says Dollaya Chaibongsai, co-founder of Allies99. “Charles challenged our class, and we had a collective hunger to do something meaningful and use our skills, experience, relationships, and capital to truly make a difference. Our class of 350-plus is diverse in industry and functional expertise at all levels - mainly top-level CEOs. What binds us together is our community, compassion, and a shared hunger to do something fitting GSB’s motto: ‘Change Lives. Change Organizations. Change the World.’ And at this stage in our careers, many of us now have the collective resources and capital power to do something meaningful and substantive.”
“I told them I’d be shocked if they did it and even more shocked if, a year from now, they’re still meeting with me to help,” says Phillips. “Yet it’s two years later, my classmates came through with the funding we needed to attract other investors, and they’re still regularly meeting with me, offering me their minds and their money.”
Sawa Credit Inc. uses behavioral science to solve a social problem
Sawa leverages behavioral science and machine-learning research to help underserved borrowers mitigate the financial stress that leads to defaults on mortgages and rent. “We are using science to increase underserved borrowers’ financial capacity by building a community support network to help them in a time of need and dramatically reduce their fears about financial emergencies,” says Phillips. “Picture a single dad who always pays bills on time and suddenly gets sick and risks missing a mortgage or rent payment. Now he’ll have a community to help him out, and when he lands on his feet, he will, in turn, pay it forward.”
“This is a totally different approach to creating a for-profit company. We started out trying to solve a social problem with behavioral science, and we attracted money and world-class minds to help us solve it,” says Phillips.
Sawa, which in Swahili means “all good, no worries,” has been using its venture funding to study participant behavior to find solutions for credit access and solvency inequality.
About Sawa Credit Inc.: Sawa Credit Inc. is leveraging behavioral science and machine learning to create a community financial support platform. Underserved individuals are rewarded for helping others address unexpected financial stressors, as well as hedge against their own future financial challenges. Sawa’s platform keeps liquidity in the community, thus addressing wealth disparity and utilizes technology to provide an infinitely scalable platform.
Allies99 is a diverse, inclusive group of MBA99s committed to action that creates meaningful advances in racial equity and justice within our workplaces, communities, and homes.
We are informed by a personal sense of urgency to address the persistence of gross, systemic racial inequity, and the GSB’s mission is to develop innovative, principled, and insightful leaders who change the world.
SOURCE: Sawa Credit Inc.
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