Tell us about your organization’s mission/focus area.
We are based in Phoenix, Arizona, primarily serving the unbanked and underbanked and Black and Brown communities. Our vision is to support low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities and provide a helping hand to community members. We look to transform capitalism into humanism. We provide a unique approach in providing loans and behavioral financial wellness services to underserved communities. We are also servicing loans for organizations in Houston,Texas, and Waterbury, Connecticut.
Describe a current challenge in your community and how your organization is addressing this?
The UPI Loan Fund was created to provide a viable alternative to predatory lenders who charge fees and interest rates at 400% and higher. These predators (e.g. Payday and Title Loans) although legal in many states, primarily operate in poorer communities, especially communities of color, preying on people during their time of financial need.
To address this challenge, we are providing unsecured personal micro loans, with a maximum loan amount of $4,000. Proof of income and regard for making current payments are important underwriting considerations.
Why did you join the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)?
How did you hear about NCRC?
We heard about it through an NCRC Member Referral.
Have you collaborated, or would you like to collaborate with other organizations to successfully achieve a goal?
We strongly believe in collaboration. We are always looking to improve and expand our services by collaborating with other nonprofits that would like to have a loan program.
Please share a success story or memorable moment from your work.
A woman applied for a loan to expand her business of selling imported goods and spices that she imported from Africa. As an immigrant herself, her clientele of stores, restaurants and individuals was growing. What we discovered, however, was she did not have a legitimate business. She was still working a regular 9 to 5 job, which allowed us to provide her with a personal loan. However, we were also able to educate her on registering her business with the state, opening a business bank account with an EIN number. We referred her to a business accelerator program where she learned various facets of running a business. She later called me to thank us for our help. She let us know that her business was growing and she had qualified for a line of credit at a credit union. You can watch our video in which she is featured here.
She’s currently looking for a commercial space for her business.
Connect with the UPI Loan Fund:
Kerwin Brown is the Executive Director of the UPI Loan Fund.
Pictured is UPI’s Executive Director Kerwin Brown with UPI’s President Frank Crump, presenting a check to one of their borrowers. Picture courtesy of Kerwin Brown.