In 1990, KRS-One rapped about combining data and leisure, saying “I’ll simply title it Edutainment / Folks sit and have a look at my album / Like an issue, they attempt to clear up ’em / They don’t comprehend it solely leads the way in which / To a brilliant extra optimistic day.”
Now, three many years later, rapper, activist, and entrepreneur Killer Mike (Michael Render) is aiming for a similar consequence with Greenwood, his digital banking firm, which is launching a brand new studio to create monetary education content material.
“KRS-One talked about ‘edutaining’ individuals,” Render says. “Folks need to see content material and are focused on being entertained, however individuals additionally need their education in a means that’s simply absorbed. The individuals who don’t know get to know, the individuals who already know, know extra, and the individuals who know-it-all understand how little they actually do know and get an opportunity to be educated as properly.”
That’s the tenet behind Atlanta-based Greenwood, which is known as for the previous Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, an space often known as Black Wall Street earlier than it was destroyed within the 1921 Tulsa race bloodbath. The corporate was based in late 2020 by Render, Ryan Glover, and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Younger with the mission to serve Black and Latinx communities, entrepreneurs, and small companies. It’s raised almost $40 million from traders resembling Truist Bank, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America.
To start out with, Greenwood’s content material studio is teaming up with widespread podcast Earn Your Leisure to supply new programming geared toward Black and Latinx audiences. Centered on the enterprise of sports activities and leisure, it pitches itself as pop culture-meets-Harvard Enterprise College. Hosts Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings first heard about Greenwood throughout a podcast interview with Killer Mike, and see the model’s transfer into content material as an enormous alternative. “It’s extraordinarily essential as a result of the way in which individuals devour data has shifted,” they stated in an e-mail. “A few of our viewers might not have entry to conventional banking, so this partnership helps our evolution to turning into a worldwide useful resource for all issues enterprise and finance.”
Different Greenwood programming features a each day podcast known as Cash Strikes hosted by Tanya Sam of The Actual Housewives of Atlanta; a documentary of tales from Black Wall Road; and “Greenwood’s Greenbook,” a web-based listing of Black- and Latinx-owned companies throughout the U.S.
Whereas it’s a digital bank, Greenwood will provide conventional providers like checking and financial savings accounts, loans, and free ATM utilization. (The complete banking platform launch has been delayed until early 2022 on account of an enormous demand, with greater than 500,000 individuals signing up on the waitlist.) The content material studio is each a solution to attain potential clients and provide monetary literacy instruments to communities which have traditionally been underserved by banks.
Black mortgage candidates are denied at an 80% increased price than white candidates, according to 2020 data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. And, based on the Boston Consulting Group, Black and Latinx households make up 32% of the U.S. inhabitants however characterize 64% of the nation’s unbanked households and 47% of its underbanked households. Test cashers and payday lenders—which are sometimes predatory—are extra frequent than main bank branches in lower-income communities. Greenwood’s purpose is to start out altering these statistics.
“With a purpose to thwart racial inequality, monetary empowerment has to exist,” says Glover, a former document exec and founding father of Bounce TV. “It begins with the recirculation of capital. We need to extinguish all predatory-lending practices in banking. Candidly, we need to put all check-cashing companies out of enterprise.”
Glover says the bank supplies the chance, and the content material is there to be a useful resource on the way to finest make the most of that chance. “We need to assist individuals learn to fish but in addition train our group the way to put together the fish,” he says.
Mixing popular culture and leisure to advertise monetary education isn’t a brand new concept. NBA star LeBron James’s Uninterrupted partnered with Chase in 2018 for a video and eventual podcast collection. However Greenwood is pitching itself as a special sort of messenger.
“Oftentimes working-class individuals, people who find themselves newly immigrated, individuals who grew up poor, are intimidated by finance,” Render says. “They’re intimidated by the language, they’re intimidated by the atmosphere. The addition of content material wipes away plenty of that anxiousness and worry since you’re participating folks that additionally appear to be you.”
The previous few years have seen the rise of so-called neobanks, or monetary tech corporations providing digital banking providers. According to PitchBook, traders put $44.4 billion into fintech startups final 12 months alone. Some, like teen-focused debit card startup Step, endorsed by TikTok star Charli D’Amelio, goal a selected viewers, however most are extra typically centered on simplifying and disrupting conventional banking for youthful clients.
Render says that Greenwood is a response to how America’s programs have failed Black individuals. “Whether or not it’s finance, healthcare, education—the distrust will not be unwarranted. However we’re right here to make some progress on it in my lifetime so it’s not as warranted because it as soon as was,” he says. “We need to assist individuals construct the boldness it takes to take part on this system, so we’re residing in it and not underneath it.”