According to the National Women’s Business Council, Latina-owned small businesses are the fastest-growing segment of the business community in the United States. There are over two million Latina-owned businesses in the country, a growth of more than 87% since 2007, which means they are a crucial aspect of the growing US economy. But there are also a number of barriers, such as education, funding and supplementary resources, that are quite common among the Latino community, that can impede more entrepreneurs from entering the market and becoming financially stable.
In fact, there are over 40 million Hispanics of Mexican origin living in the United States, and 30% have little or no access to easy banking methods and financial resources that can allow them to get to the next step in their financial goals.
In the lead up to Hispanic Heritage Month this year, which runs from September 15 to October 15, a new all-in-one banking collective app was launched in the United States and Mexico in August, which offers a new kind of personal finance membership that empowers people through community, co-creation and rewards.
Tend, a next-generation personal finance platform committed to making access to financial well-being better for everyone, combines financial technology with social interaction to make accessing, moving and growing people’s money easier, faster and more human.
Tend takes on a range of challenges faced by many who have disadvantaged access to financial resources and education. With its coordinated launch in the U.S. and Mexico, the banking app will provide a unified ecosystem for people to save, spend and financially connect across borders without friction. The all-in-one platform enables members to handle their money matters, whether transactional or conversational, in one place.
We had the opportunity to speak with Tend’s Senior Advisor Brand Experience & Marketing – Hispanic & Latin American Markets, Sofia Ramirez about how this company is doing things different when it comes to serving Hispanic populations. Not only do they hire a number of Latino people, they commit to their mission beyond Hispanic Heritage Month, ensuring their customers reach their financial goals all year round. Read below to learn more from Sofia.
How did you initially become involved with Tend, and what attracted you to the company?
For the past 20 years, I have worked with companies serving communities in both the U.S. and Latin America. I am passionate about enhancing and improving the customer’s experience, to make it more personalized, easy-to-use, and efficient.
Even though financial matters are something one deals with every day, most people are not confident when it comes to managing their money. Understanding the different options can be stressful and complex, such as how to save for the future, how to improve / build credit, and how to get out of debt. Because financial literacy is not taught at school, most people have very limited knowledge on the subject.
When I met with Tend CEO James Dunavant, I was inspired by his strong commitment to helping people improve their financial health together as a community. I felt the company’s goal aligned with my personal mission – utilizing technology to help improve people’s lives.
At Tend, we are taking on many different challenges faced by those who have historically been underserved and lack the financial resources and education that meet their banking needs, including Spanish-speaking communities. Tend is an all-in-one digital platform that makes managing your money easy and eliminates stress. The banking app removes the complexities and members can use the platform for all of their financial needs, from traditional transactions to asking specific financial questions.
We believe the path to happier, healthier financial lives begins with bringing individuals’ voices together by focusing on the community.
Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept 15 to Oct 15. What are you hoping to raise awareness about with Tend during this time?
Larger financial institutions have historically overlooked the banking needs of minorities.
Digital banking apps have the potential to upend the existing financial system by focusing on diversity and inclusion. Did you know that 30% of Hispanics in the U.S. are unbanked and similarly, 30% of Hispanics are underbanked? Providing the financial services that meet the needs of these underserved communities makes it easier to take control of your money. You can save, spend, send money, and take out a loan, all from your phone – minus the hidden fees.
At Tend, many of our employees are Hispanic and it is important that we honor the many accomplishments of Hispanic Americans during Hispanic Heritage Month. However, our mission stays the same throughout the year. We are providing a solution for the Hispanic community in both the U.S. and Mexico and connecting people across borders. For example, Tend is available in English and/or Spanish, there are tools for financial services and there is no balance requirement. We are also working on some exciting features that are coming soon, including access to a line of credit and a low-cost method to transfer money internationally.
When it comes to wage inequality, we know that Latina women earn less than not only white men, but also white women. Can you briefly explain some of the barriers Latina women face in this area?
Although I have worked at companies where diversity is celebrated, I have also been the only woman in the room too many times. I’ve been forced to raise my voice to be heard and worked harder than others to be valued.
When I first moved to the U.S. from Mexico, I struggled with imposter syndrome. It wasn’t until I joined a group for women in leadership roles that I realized that I was not alone.
Learning to break down barriers and to have confidence in my abilities has made my career a much more enjoyable ride. It is an honor for me to be in a position where I can mentor younger women and create an environment where they feel accepted and empowered to use their voices.
Equally important, I am an advocate for the Latinx community and all of our decisions center around how they are impacted.
How is Tend aiming to fill the gap for the millions of Hispanic folks in America who don’t have access to easy banking or financial services?
Tend’s goal is to eliminate the stress and complexity of managing money. There are many financial services products to choose from. What makes Tend unique is its focus on increasing financial literacy through real conversation, as well as encouraging interaction among members and with financial experts.
- Debit Card Rewards and Benefits: The Tend app includes a Visa Debit Card, checking and savings accounts, shopping cash-back, as well as exclusive discounts at thousands of retailers, and the ability to book international travel at the best prices with cash-back rewards.
- The Green: The Green is where Tend members can connect, gain financial knowledge and share tips and ideas. Over time, members will have the opportunity to make suggestions and vote on member benefits and new features they would like to have added to the app.
- Tend Shares: The revenue sharing program pays members cash bonuses and recurring monthly streams. It increases yields to those who contribute to the growth of the community.
- Real-Time International Remittance (Coming Soon): This is part of our commitment to serving the Mexican-American community. It will include frictionless real-time, peer-to-peer, cross-border low-cost money transfers and payments and includes enhanced messaging capabilities.
Financial access often intersects with other issues such an immigration status, gender inequality, and education status. How can we learn more about this and raise awareness during this month (and beyond)?
The Latinx community has had unequal access to the most basic financial services, including credit and financial literacy. We all work hard for our money and nobody should worry about whether their money is working hard for them. Unfortunately, if you are not knowledgeable about money matters, they can be overwhelming and challenging.
That is why we started Tend, to empower the Latinx community in the U.S. and Mexico to create happier, financially healthy lives. Utilizing technology, the all-in-one app makes financial education accessible and encourages communication among collective members .
Increasing Latinx financial literacy benefits the entire community, and we grow one step closer to reducing income inequality. It gives young people the tools they need to build their financial plan, whether that is paying for school, buying a home, paying off debt, saving for retirement, or creating an emergency fund.
Can you share any personal experiences or stories from your lives which made you both passionate about helping the Hispanic community access financial freedom and business opportunities?
While living in New York, I worked with young immigrants and helped them improve their English language skills to obtain better jobs. I remember this young Mexican boy who came to America with the dream of going to college. He worked very hard and studied English at night. We had long conversations about how he crossed the border, his family and his career aspirations. I witnessed that through education and perseverance, his job prospects improved.
Stats show that Latina-owned small businesses are the fastest growing segment of the business community in the US, yet women entrepreneurs overall still receive less than 2% of Venture Capital funding. How can Tend make a difference for Latina business owners?
In order to start a business in any industry, you need to be financially literate. Tend will help women at the start of their financial journey or who are looking to improve their finances and be instrumental for aspiring entrepreneurs. Also, the goal is for The Green to be a place for financial conversations, exchange ideas, and share stories, and the hope is that Latina business owners will use this as a tool to connect with and support one another.
For someone in the Hispanic and Latina communities looking to get more financial advice, can you recommend any digital networking spaces or forums where they can engage with others?
The Green is the foundation of Tend; a forum where the community can connect, as well as broader public channels where relevant financial conversations can take place. The Green is simply a home where people can exchange ideas, share stories, talk about their financial priorities and goals for building a better future, or just hang out. And very soon, there will also be message boards with themes, as well as chat rooms.
We are not only cultivating conversation but ensuring members’ voices are heard and providing entertaining and educational personal finance content, and more importantly, providing guides that showcase members’ financial journey. After all, there is no better source of advice than a peer who has faced and overcome similar money problems. We’ll even build a community marketplace where folks can bring their own ideas to market and make a purchase from another member’s shop! We look forward to our community coming up with inspiring, new ideas and creating features based on what they want.
Interested in learning more about TEND? Click here to try it for free.