Loan rejection led this founder’s mother to pawn jewelry to survive — now her startup is helping others avoid that fate
There is very little pride like that tied to the neighborhoods where people come from. Whether you’re from Los Angeles, California, New York or across the sea Lagos, Nigeria – many people have a unique sense of pride in the deep points of connection they have with the places they call ‘home’.
Although each home is unique, what exists as universal truth are some of the challenges that tend to exist in these communities. No place is without its share of problems, from disparities in communal resources to a lack of safe and affordable housing. It is at this intersection that Esusu finds his reason for being.
Esusu is an institution created to help bridge the wealth gap. A critical part of the mission is to ease the barriers that families face in accessing housing. With the belief that “housing is a basic right, and we envision a world free of crime, housing evictions and ultimately homelessness”, the organization actively works with government and community partners to achieve its vision and mission.
AfroTech sat down with co-founder and co-CEO of Esusu Wemimo Abbey to talk about their work in this space, namely their partnership with Fannie Mae.
Journey to Revelation
Esusu was built from Abbey’s voyage. Migrating from Nigeria, Abbey and her mother worked hard to earn a living in the United States. When they reached the point of looking for homeownership options, they were turned away because they had no credit score.
“We walked into one of the biggest financial institutions in Minneapolis, we used to borrow money, we were turned away and had to borrow money from a payday lender at a rate of ‘interest over 400%,’ explained Abbey.
Emboldened by the words of Tupac of her classic song, “Dear Mama”, Abbey was convinced that her experience couldn’t be the answer.
Abbey used this time in the bank to lead him on a journey that would ultimately give birth to Esusu. With the knowledge he and his co-founder Samir Goel had of the 45 million people in America who don’t have a credit score, the two men set out to make sure as many people as possible didn’t. the same experience as Abbey and her mother. .
A guide to achieving goals
The primary way they accomplish their mission of connecting people to housing is by leveraging their technology to empower people with information and resources to achieve their financial goals.
“We [Esusu] work with major owners and operators, and we capture point-in-time rental data and report it to consumer rating agencies. Thus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion help establish credit scores. And for people who can’t afford to pay, we’re giving them interest-free rent relief,” Abbey said of Esusu’s work.
Resources like providing rent relief are made possible through grassroots partnerships with local and national non-profit organizations. The last of these resource connections is their collaborative work with Fannie Mae.
As part of this partnership, Fannie Mae will encourage its borrowers to report rental payments on time to the three major credit bureaus through Esusu’s rental reporting platform. The rent reporting platform automatically de-registers tenants in the event of missed payments, thus avoiding harm to those who are in financial difficulty.
As part of this deeper relationship, Fannie Mae covers the cost of the first full year of service fees for Esusu’s platform, plus discounted prices thereafter for any borrower who signs up. The partnership will help participating multi-family property owners increase timely rent collection, reduce evictions, and most importantly, increase their environmental social governance (ESG) efforts.
Fannie Mae has acknowledged the harm the organization has caused to communities of color. One step to help right some of these wrongs was to make sure people could access and improve their credit scores. Abbey and his team accepted this offer with this partnership.
“It’s about building fairness, believing that people deserve a fighting chance and believing that everything that happened in the past happened,” Abbey said.
The future is bright
As the service is filtered through landlords and provided to tenants of these units, Esusu hopes that over the next few years they can provide resources to a range of landlords that span over 10 million families and individuals. tenants.
“One day I feel like saying, ‘Hey, Joshua didn’t have a credit score, but because of Esusu, we set up his credit score,’ right? And we don’t We didn’t stop there. Right now, something is happening – rent relief kicks in. After rent relief, Joshua is on his way to buy a house. These are some of the analyzes we do at the Esusu,” Abbey said passionately.