Cycle – not the one you ride but the one you break

Cycle is a course or series of events or operations that recur regularly and usually lead back to the starting point.


Our City of Waco’s Financial Empowerment Blueprint lists “Consumer Financial Protection” as an area of work needed to ensure financial and economic security among Wacoans and, in particular, our low-to-moderate income community.


The work of Consumer Financial Protection in our community focuses us on helping our most vulnerable Wacoans in protecting and keeping their assets safe from predatory practices.


Credit is something we all need and have utilized at one point in our life, whether it was to buy a car or a house or maybe we got into a jam and needed a temporary infusion of cash due to an unforeseen emergency. The facts remain the same in our society, credit and the ability to obtain credit is necessary. Ultimately, what drives the need for credit is typically the same across all ethnicities and economic backgrounds. Your need may be larger or smaller than someone else’s but the “need for credit” is the same for all Wacoans.


Many members of our low-to-moderate income (LMI) communities who need credit (as we all do), have found it nearly impossible to obtain traditional “bank” financing and, as a result, have had to look for alternatives to achieve the same goals as you and me.


Predatory lenders have filled this need in our LMI communities, preying upon our citizens because there was not a viable alternative. The Texas Office of Consumer Credit reports the average Annual Percentage Rate (APR) from an installment loan from “payday lenders” in 2019 averaged 490% and title (secured loan where borrowers can use their vehicle title as collateral) loans averaged 418%. They also report 18% of Texans had their cars repossessed and paid $1.64 billion in fees. This is astonishing, I know, and the immediate response by many is let’s financially educate our LMI community members and tell them not to do it.


I agree. But how do we assist all Wacoans with the need for credit that drives us all?


In our work at Prosper Waco to implement the City of Waco’s Financial Empowerment Blueprint, I see this work as three-fold as we assist members of our LMI communities many of whom are unbanked or underbanked:

  1. Partnering with community-facing partners including nonprofits, civic, social, education, and others to insert financial education into their existing programs;

  2. Building a team of financial educators from our numerous financial services providers in Waco to assist in delivering financial education curriculum to our community; and

  3. Finding and sharing alternative lenders to payday lenders to serve the needs of Wacoans who may not be ready for traditional bank financing.

If you are or work with a community partner and would like to work with us in financially educating our community, we encourage you to reach out to me at dexter@prosperwaco.org. If you are a financial service provider and would like to assist us in providing financial education to our community, please reach out to me as well.


I am also excited to share that we are in the process of vetting two new “alternative lenders” to payday lenders to introduce to our Waco community. One lender is an employer-based lender providing alternatives via a community member’s workplace and another not-for-profit lender who provides consumer lending and auto lending that matches what is being done currently via payday lenders, except at a substantially lower rate. Both lenders also provide varying degrees of financial education for their borrowers to ensure they can eventually obtain traditional bank financing.


It is truly an exciting time to be in Waco and to be a Wacoan helping to provide solutions to assist our communities. We invite all to join us in the work of ensuring financial and economic security to all Wacoans. If you would like to volunteer or provide resources to help in these efforts amongst others, please contact me at dexter@prosperwaco.org


Dexter Hall is chief of staff and senior content specialist for financial security with Prosper Waco.