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EVOLve_06: Viola Carmona [3/10/2022]

Viola Carmona: CEO at Champion Lender Inc. in Orlando

This is the sixth in our #EVOLve Series with one of our @posi2ive community members. Viola has been active in our weekly *VC Impact* community roundtables on Twitter Spaces [each Friday 3:30pm PT]. In this self-paced and self-authored interview series, we ask impact Founders / Investors what they are doing to change the world, and why they’re motivated to focus on their area of impact. Hope you all enjoy!

I would love to spread the message, that home ownership is more than just taking on a massive debt, it is the opportunity to change your life. And home ownership IS achievable, and we are here to help you get there.

Twitter: Champion_Lender

The Interview

Top Sustainable Development Goals (SDG):

1: No Poverty, 5: Gender Equality, 10: Reduced Inequalities

Impact verticals your venture focuses on:

Financial Access / Democratization, Responsible Lending, Social Impact

Please share what you’re building, your professional background, and what inspired this venture.

Started my adult career in the Navy as an Aviation Maintenance Administration man. After getting out of the Navy I worked as a call center agent at a mortgage lead generation call center. I went from call center agent, to floor supervisor, to business development manager and eventually the company’s COO. After the company was sold I started my own lead generation call center where I continued to screen applicants. It was through my work here that we made the pivot and focused on our attention on getting the minority population ready to purchase or refinance their homes.

What’s the impact focus of your venture? And how do you plan to measure impact?

We reduce denial rates for minority communities. It is our belief that through home ownership, we can combat the racial wealth inequality that still exists in our country today. We measure stability: financial, educational and emotional. We measure what they do after the purchase a home for instance if they refinance, are they using it to buy additional property to generate income, start a business, put a child through college, etc. At the moment it is surveys but we would like to figure out some way to automate measuring impact.

What’s driving your impact focus?

I’m my borrowers. It was becoming very difficult to screen applicants knowing I could help them or knowing they would be denied and sending them through anyway. Over 200 years of unfair housing practices, and here I am unknowingly contributing to it instead of helping. Frankly that haunts me every day. Once I had the knowledge, I couldn’t continue. And the result has been amazing. I cannot describe the feeling I get, knowing that we are actually changing people’s lives for the better in so many ways. I want to live in that feeling forever. The money that comes along with that is not a bad motivator at all. If I’m going to make a ton of money I want to be able to enjoy it with a clear conscious.

What are some obstacles standing in the way of the impact you have planned?

Old habits die hard. I had to figure out a way to get the buy-in from the industry titans, and the old guard. We’ve come up with some solutions that work but we have some way to go. It will be work. Another obstacle, as hard to admit sometimes, is me. I sometimes get in my own way but keeping the mission at the forefront of everything I do helps.

How do you stay motivated?

I talk to past clients, I keep pictures of everything that is important to me around my desk, so I don’t have to look very far for reminders.

Tell us about your market, customers, and team.

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t solely help minority borrowers, although we do put a heavier focus on that population. Last year 6% of the denials came from white non-Hispanics. Anyone who would be denied for things that could be corrected, is who we will service. The team is made up of 5 call centers, 5 US based call center agents, 3 business development managers, 5 LOs, my Tech Manager who handles my integrations team and two Advisors. My kids sometimes help out with ideas, believe it or not, but they are not on payroll.

How do you keep yourself healthy — e.g., mentally, physically, emotionally?

Mental Health is a huge priority for me. I see a therapist once a week. And I’ve learned to limit my alcohol consumption, although I use to be the biggest beer snob you’ll ever meet. I watch what I eat and I play rugby to keep myself physically healthy.

What are you currently educating yourself on?

Being a non-tech-Founder didn’t sit well with me, so currently I am teaching myself how to code.

What books, podcasts, or newsletters should our community read — to better understand your area of impact?

For Books:

Race for Profit — How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership (by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor), was a huge resource for me. The Color of Money (by Mehrsa Baradaran).

For Newsletters:

The MBA puts out great articles. Forbes has two amazing writers that puts out articles about this specific topic, by Natalie Campisi and Samantha Allen. HUD reports. Consumer Finance Monitor, ConsumerFinance.Gov, CNBC.

For Podcasts:

I wouldn’t be able to answer that question considering I’ve never listened to a podcast before, including the ones I’ve been interviewed for.

What do you do outside of work, that you like to brag about?

Two things: I am a rugby player, and went all the way to “semi pro” and continue to play today. I’m also a dang good carpenter. There is nothing I can’t make out of wood, and I love my work.

How can the @posi2ive community support your efforts? (*Not public solicitation, nor securities offerings)

I would love to spread the message, that home ownership is more than just taking on a massive debt, it is the opportunity to change your life. And home ownership IS achievable, and we are here to help you get there.

Copyright 2022, all rights reserved. If you’re a Founder / Investor focused on VC Impact, we’d love to invite you to share your story here (#EVOLve) with the posi2ive community. If you’re an LP or GP in venture, we’d also love to have you apply to our private VC Impact Capital Community.



We interview VCs / Angels / Founders focused on Venture Scale Positive Impacts. #VC_impact

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A Community focused on Venture Scale Positive Impacts. Produced by Zecca Lehn. On Twitter @posi2ive.