The right tools, the right partners, and a Blueprint for Financial Empowerment help people move from a state of instability to a state of empowerment with new savings habits, higher credit scores, and lower debt burdens. Waco needs a bigger toolbox for financial empowerment.
I’m short. I have beautiful kitchen cabinets filled with everything we need for a meal, but without a sturdy step stool, the spices, china, and glassware are completely out of reach. Thousands of hardworking Wacoans are finding the basic building blocks of financial security just outside of their reach, as well.
Sturdy step stools are not glamorous, not technically sophisticated, and not trendy gizmos. Waco is lacking some financial empowerment step stools that other mid-sized cities have cultivated.
A lot of people need a simple boost. The City of Waco Financial Empowerment Blueprint has identified five major tools Waco needs for thousands of families to reach a state of stability and financial empowerment: tools for building assets, banking, using credit, financial learning throughout life, and small business support.
We can all use a boost, especially small businesses which are the backbone of our economy. A good example comes from the amazing and inspiring Linda Crawford, editor and publisher of The Anchor News, a 16-page monthly newspaper that spotlights individuals, businesses, special events, health issues, and home ownership education. Distributed in over 300 locations throughout Waco and Central Texas, The Anchor is dedicated to serving the Central Texas community and surrounding areas, focusing on positive news and accomplishments of minorities. Just a boost, just the right tool and she’s on her way. (View of the video of Linda Crawford’s story here.)
Financial empowerment work is not new. Other mid-size cities have mobilized their assets, partners, and structure to provide these tools for families. Nashville has a financial empowerment plan and says this:
Whether you are in chronic financial trouble, an unexpected crisis arises, or you just want to make sure you are on the right track, individualized help – getting the right tools and the right partners for your situation – can move you toward greater financial stability. Managing bills, working through debt, budgeting, improving your credit, establishing a savings habit, opening a bank account – you name it. Becoming financially empowered means you can save for an emergency, purchase a car or a home, get a degree to improve your wages, or start a small business.
Take your own financial empowerment inventory – what do you need to build assets? to be banking your money at a low rate? to avoid high interest credit? to learn something useful about finance as your life changes and evolves? to avoid being taken advantage of? to build your best business?
Success comes from working with a team that is client-led, so whatever circumstance or goals you come in with, whatever the changing circumstances in your life, a team can help you design a plan of action and provide encouragement along the way. Often, we just need assurance of the path forward and a blueprint for action to get there.
Shout out to Startup Waco for KIVA (a nonprofit that uses a crowdfunding to fund loans to local businesses), McCif, the new McLennan County Community Investment Fund, Community Loan Corp., HOT Goodwill, HOT Council of Governments Housing Navigator, the City of Waco for Small Business Recovery Fund, Habitat for Humanity, Grassroots, and NeighborWorks, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, African American Chamber of Commerce, Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce – all helping provide the right tools for the right time. And all these efforts need growth, scale, and new partners, too.
If you are reading this, you are already a community leader and the financial empowerment effort needs your support. Be a cheerleader, be an investor in the elements of the City of Waco Blueprint for Financial Empowerment. Chances are good, if your neighbor asked for help with a sturdy little step stool, you would share with a smile.
Suzii Paynter March is CEO of Prosper Waco.