How an ex-trader is helping girls of color unleash their financial power
By Natalie Brown, Kiva marketing intern
At just 23 years old, Chloe is the founder and CEO of BlackFem, a non-profit venture capital firm that teaches financial literacy to women and girls of color in under-served communities. Her philosophy regarding wealth in America might surprise you, and it’s now the title of a new children’s book she co-wrote: ‘Money Does Grow on Trees.’
She uses the book to teach financial literacy to young students, illustrating that if they allow their money to grow, like an apple on a tree, and reinvest it in themselves, they can help pay for their future education.
“Everyone deserves access to the ability to build wealth,” Chloe says. “Our job is to grant access to the world of wealth for these kids.”
Chloe’s inspiration for BlackFem came while working as a trader at J.P. Morgan, where she realized the flaws and gaps in the financial services industry and became determined to make a change.
“I felt as though I was not serving in such a way that I could feel as though I was truly helping those less fortunate,” she explains.
BlackFem works with women and girls of color because they are the most economically disadvantaged social demographic in America, as seen in the below chart:
By teaching financial literacy to these young women, BlackFem provides them with the knowledge they need to be economically and socially empowered.
BlackFem’s Time is Money program teaches 3rd-6th grade students financial literacy through interactive lessons and engaging investigations. Young girls gain practical skills about managing money, such as how to balance a budget, file taxes, and manage their 401(k) plans.
To fund BlackFem’s Time is Money program, Chloe took out a Kiva loan. She first looked to another business financing company, but after finding out they don’t give loans to non-profits, her friend recommended Kiva.
“Our loan was fully funded in 6 days, which was the validation I needed that so many people believe in our mission,” Chloe said.
Chloe describes Kiva’s lending process as a community initiative. “Those lenders to this day are on our social media; they get to see exactly what their money went to.”
Not only did the loan help fund the Time is Money program, but it will continue to fund the creation of youth programs until the end of this year, as well as their upcoming fall fundraiser.
“Kiva has helped me realize you don’t need a million dollar donor. You have a community of people willing to pay $25 and who are actually investing in these kids.”
“Thanks to the Kiva loan, we’re able to meet a lot of people who believe in us. The support I’ve gotten from Kiva has been phenomenal. After our Time is Money program, little girls wrote notes thanking us, and they understood what the funding meant to them. Our Kiva lenders became investors in the girls. One girl said, ‘I’m not gonna call them lenders — I’m gonna call them investors.’”
“Kiva has been the light when we thought that there was no light at all.”
When asked about BlackFem’s biggest goal moving forward, Chloe said they would like to get banks and credit unions to plug into the program and help them set up bank accounts and investment portfolios for the kids.
Chloe has no doubt that BlackFem will look to take out another Kiva loan in the future. “Once we pay this one back, we have every intention to do it again. It was such an amazing experience, and the Kiva process was so seamless. It’s so nice to have that support — from a bank, you’ll never get that.”