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Their Turn: Being black in America | Guest Commentary

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FROM EDITOR JEFF D’ALESSIO: Those of us who could bring ourselves to watch even a snippet of the eight minutes and 46 seconds of horror that played out in broad daylight on May 25 in Minneapolis won’t soon forget it.

But for 14.6 percent of Illinoisans — or the 28,500 or so African Americans here in Champaign County — it’s part of recurring nightmare, one that ends with an unarmed black male losing his life at the hands of an armed white man.

“How long? How many times? When will it stop?” asks Parkland Dean of Students Marietta Turner, one of nine African American community leaders whose first-person stories — about what it looks, feels and sounds like to be black in America — you’ll find in below and in a special project in today’s News-Gazette.

This, of course, is not a one-day conversation. So we’ll continue it in the days and weeks ahead, turning over Tuesday’s new-look “Town Hall” commentary page to NAACP President Minnie Pearson, NAACP award winner Karen Simms and other local voices — some you’ve heard from before, others you haven’t — and following it up next Sunday and beyond.

If you’d like to contribute to an effort we hope will both educate and enlighten, email me at jdalessio@news-gazette.com.

‘I read once somewhere that anything is possible when you sound Caucasian on the phone’

By CLARISSA NICKERSON FOURMAN



Their Turn Fourman

Clarissa Nickerson Fourman near the site of the future senior center in the Bristol Place development in north Champaign.




The best way that I can help people who are not black understand what racism is for us on a daily basis is to give you an example from my lived experience.

You fill out a job application. You turn in your résumé. They call you. They do a phone screening. They’re so excited to meet you. They cannot wait for your interview, which they schedule for the next day.

You put on your best outfit, you have your hair done nicely, you’re very presentable, you’re ready to sell yourself. You show up, you go in, and you say,’ Hi, I’m Clarissa. I’m here for a job interview.’

Then the person you are interviewing with comes out. They say, ‘Clarissa?’ because they’re making sure that it’s you and you say, ‘Yes, I’m Clarissa. I spoke with you on the phone yesterday.’

They keep a straight face and say, ‘Oh, OK,’ and in that moment you know that they weren’t expecting you to be black. They never even considered that the person they had read the résumé of, the person they had spoken to on the phone, the person they were much very excited to meet — they never once thought that I could be black.

And it’s not so much the fact that they weren’t expecting me to be black, it’s that I can see that they are clearly disappointed that I am.

I read once somewhere that anything is possible when you sound Caucasian on the phone. I think that’s an experience that most black people will tell you they’ve had. Showing up black is an everyday thing for black people in the United States — no matter what you do, no matter where you go, you show up black.

This notion that people don’t see color and they don’t see race — it’s not the reality. Until you experience showing up black, I can never fully explain to you how deep racism hurts.

Garden Hills resident Clarissa Nickerson Fourman has represented District 1 on the Champaign City Council since 2015.

‘This is how I felt in the ’60s’

By THE REV. ERVIN WILLIAMS

This has been a trying period for me. I’m not one to claim post-traumatic stress when I stub my toe, but watching the many unjustified killings taking place, and directed toward black people, has stirred up feelings that I thought were long gone.

During the 1960s, I was very much involved in the Freedom Movement. Young, angry and troubled, I took to the streets because I wasn’t going to live any longer being oppressed, suppressed and distressed, no matter the cost.



Their Turn Williams

The Rev. Ervin Williams at Restoration Urban Ministries’ facility in Champaign.




One night, my family awakened to a cross burning in front of our home. This troubled us, and our neighbors. We armed ourselves for protection. When a stranger would pass by or drive through, everyone would be on edge. In fact, my cousin received an M-80 firecracker thrown at her from a car, and lost part of her hearing. We lived in a state of heightened sensitivity, and always on guard, day after day, and especially during the night hours.

One of the things I do at the end of every day is walk through my neighborhood and pray for the families that live there. Monday night, after attending the protest that afternoon and a prayer gathering in the park, I went on my prayer vigil about 10:30 p.m.

As I was making my way back home, a car pulled to the other side of the street ahead of me and just remained; the lights were on and the motor running. I thought: What is going on here? As I passed them, I tried to get a view of the passengers, but it was too dark. So I kept walking and looking over my shoulder.

A second car pulled up ahead of me on my side of the street and did the same thing. I mapped out in my head what I would do if something crazy were to happen. One person in the back opened their door while the front door remained closed. I kept walking past the car; after I was down the block, the car exited, and went to a house on the street.

After I returned home, I was still thinking about this. During the events, I was wondering what they were going to do. And then it dawned on me that they were probably wondering the same of me, both of us unsure of the other’s intentions.

This is how I felt in the ’60s. It doesn’t matter what side of the fence you may be on, both were suspicious, paranoid and a tad fearful of what was going on.

It had been over 50 years since I felt like that. I didn’t like it, and I cried a few tears because I felt right back there again.

I agree anyone with a heart should be concerned over the brutal deaths that have been occurring. But is the goal to get justice, or to stir up fear?

I’m looking for solutions that change our society, not fear that keeps us away from the answers we seek.

The Rev. Ervin Williams is the founder and executive director of Champaign’s Restoration Urban Ministries.

‘Mothers, please realize that we can help change our society’

By MARIETTA TURNER

How long? How many times? When will it stop? I am a black woman who is a mother, grandmother, aunt, great-aunt and educator, and my undergraduate degree from UIC focused on history. Often, my history professors reminded us that studying history was to help citizens gain insights and not repeat the same mistakes over and over.

Yet, here we are again.

Dr. King taught non-violence as a protest model. He learned that protest model from Mahatma Gandhi and used it to lead the Montgomery Bus boycotts and the March on Selma. The goal was bringing people together, not creating divisiveness.



Their Turn Turner M

Marietta Turner is shown Thursday, June 4, 2020 at Mattis Park in Champaign.




I am in the house, writing my thoughts because I am old enough to remember the riots after Dr. King’s death. The non-violent protest movement changed viewpoints, brought people together and created major change. Did we truly learn from this example? Are we closer to more Americans holding the values that Dr. King suggested of judging people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin?

Michael Jordan said the other day, ‘We have had enough.’ He says that it is time to call out the ingrained racism and violence against people of color in this country. He also reminded us that we need to peacefully look for ways to work together to create a better society.

I have talked with many friends, family and colleagues from across the country who are voicing frustration with our society. How can the Constitution declare equal rights for all Americans, but not allow people of color to safely engage in basic human actions such as going running, shopping, driving, unloading one’s car, sleeping at home or going bird watching. Really?

I shed many tears and my soul aches. My heart hurts. I am devastated, sad and angry over the killing of George Floyd and so many others in the past few weeks, months and years. George Floyd was a peaceful, kind, spiritual and God-fearing black man. I stand with Terrence Floyd, who stood tearfully at his brother’s memorial site and reminded us to protest peacefully. He asked that we find meaningful ways to make his brother’s name stand for real social change.

Now is the time to push the disease of racism out of the darkness and shine love for all humanity on it until we create a paradigm shift. Time to stop repeating the cycles of racism and realize what hurts one hurts us all.

No more sound bites, quick fixes or task forces. We need to realize there are good people in all occupations — including law enforcement, who truly believe in serving and protecting people. Civility and respect for others is beyond occupations, races, ethnicities, religions, genders, education, political affiliations or social class.

Many variables have shrunk the world: the internet, social media, international travel and the impact of a global pandemic. Racism is a taught belief/value, so I am asking the mothers to help end it.

Start an organic process by talking about race within your family, especially with your children, starting at an early age. Create interactions with different people. Strike up conversations and lead discussions at your place of worship, and your community centers. Mothers, please realize that we can help change our society.

Marietta Turner is the dean of students at Parkland College.

‘Why did you follow me as I walked in the store?’

By SHELDON TURNER



Their Turn Turner S

Sheldon Turner




FEAR

WHY SHOULD I WORRY BECAUSE I DON’T LOOK LIKE YOU?

WHY SHOULD I BE AFRAID WHEN I HAVE RIGHTS LIKE YOU DO.

WHEN I WALK IN THE BANK WHAT DO YOU SEE?

IN YOUR MIND ARE YOU THINKING: “ANOTHER BLACK MAN WITH BAD CREDIT” KNOWING YOUR ANSWER EVEN BEFORE THE APPLICATION FEE.

HOW DID YOU KNOW I LIVED IN THE “HOOD”?

YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW MY NAME, YOUR ASSUMPTION MOSTLY BAD NOT GOOD.

WHY DID YOU FOLLOW ME AS I WALKED IN THE STORE?

IS IT BECAUSE OF MY SKIN COLOR, THE SHAPE OF MY LIPS, OR MAYBE IN YOUR MIND SOMETHING MORE.

I REMEMBER THE DAY I PURCHASED MY FIRST NEW TRUCK. IT WAS BLACK, BLACK TINT, AND CHROME WHEELS.

80 HOURS A WEEK, YES HARD WORK TRULY PAYS OFF PAYING ALL MY BILLS.

YET YOU PULLED ME OVER TO PROFILE ME,

AS MY LITTLE SONS’ EYES GOT WIDE WITH FEAR BECAUSE OF THE BRIGHT LIGHTS CRYING DADDY.

YOU TOLD ME MY TAIL LIGHT WAS OUT; IN MY MIND HOW COULD THIS BE?

I MEAN I JUST PURCHASED THIS NEW TRUCK, OFFICER; CAN I GET OUT TO SEE?

NO, YOU REPLIED; DON’T MOVE AND KEEP YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE,

BUT MY SONS ARE CRYING YET IT’S GETTING HARDER TO EXPLAIN MY PLEA.

I COULD GO ON AND ON TO DESCRIBE THE FEAR THAT PLAGUES ME,

MY LIFE IS NOTHING LIKE YOURS IN 2020 HOPING NOW YOUR EYES CAN SEE.

Sheldon Turner is the career services placement liaison for Champaign schools.

‘Hope is what I left the protest with and hope is what I am carrying into the days and weeks ahead’

By GIANINA BAKER

There are so many thoughts going through my head, all the time. It’s hard to put words to paper. Especially as situations change at a moment’s notice. While the context and tensions differ, history itself repeats — case in point, the loss of black lives locally and nationally.

I will never forget what is was like to see the protest this past week through my children’s eyes. I know the responsibility I have in protecting their black boy joy while making them aware of the realities of the world, but for that moment and even though they might not have known it, we were there in solidarity with others to support them.



Their Turn Baker

Gianina Baker




We were all there to acknowledge that black lives matter.

Attending the protest was me engaging in some needed radical self-care. Not just self-care, but radical self-care. I’m still learning what that means. But I can tell you I spent some time reading Audre Lorde’s ‘The Master Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House’ and actively planning next steps on how and where I can serve and am needed. In the words of John E. Lewis, ‘If not us, then who? If not now, then when?’

One resource that has been instrumental for my self-care and survival is Girl Trek’s 21-day walking meditation in the footsteps of our foremothers. I’m only four days in but am motivated each day to hear and process the quotes of Audre Lorde, ‘Revolution is not a one time event’; Ella Baker, ‘We who believe in freedom cannot rest’; Shirley Chisolm, ‘You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines’; and Georgia Gilmore, ‘Be a committee of one.’

Two reminders that have stuck with me on my walks: 1) that we are somebody’s ancestors and 2) to continue to trust black women. Such powerful thoughts to reflect on during a morning walk.

Hope is what I left the protest with and hope is what I am carrying into the days and weeks ahead. As we all attempt to do the next right thing, my husband and I realize the opportunity and responsibility we have to foster uncomfortable discussions that consistently seem to come up to us both and engage others who want to do this work with us.

And through such discussions, we are building relationships, working on solutions and taking action, but with much more intentionality in taking time for ourselves and our family.

Gianina Baker is the assistant director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment and vice president of the Champaign school board.

‘The repeated mistreatment and slaying of people of color has no bounds’

By THE REV. KEITH THOMAS

As a pastor, father, grandfather, son and mentor with various other hats to wear, I found myself angry, saddened and deeply disappointed upon hearing what happened to George Floyd. Honestly, I have not and will not watch the full video clip, knowing what the end result is.

I don’t know Mr. Floyd personally at all, but I share the common thread of daily life under the guise of being a man of color in a society emboldened in its racist rhetoric. The repeated mistreatment and slaying of people of color has no bounds and could easily be one of my children, children’s children or even me.



Their Turn Thomas

The Rev. Keith Thomas, pastor of Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Champaign.




My outrage — along with others, I suspect — is laced with a feeling that wants to see his death avenged. The frustration is right there insomuch that a man can be killed before our eyes and there’s a justice system that won’t immediately acknowledge that there’s evidence to bring murder charges.

What thoughts go through a man’s mind as he slowly slips into the irreversible grip of death at the hands, or knee, of someone with whom he is acquainted? What emotional adrenaline rush occurred as this officer, without thought or care, killed this son, father, brother and friend?

There’s a subconscious thought that the justice system will once again fail to render a verdict that will curtail this type of horrific act. Systematically, there have been far too many times where we’ve felt the justice system has not rendered a proper verdict to prevent these types of incidents.

Mr. Floyd wasn’t listened to. The frustration of the masses are not being listened to by those who should be changing the unfair judicial landscape.

The pastor then must follow the letter of the scripture and beckon everyone to ‘pray about it’ and don’t forget to ‘turn the other cheek.’ We pray daily and cheeks have been turned. There’s a segment that feels tired of it and unheard since we’ve been marching and protesting and now seeks economic gratification by any means necessary.

While others know we must vote and unify under an agenda to level the playing field, there are others that have a much different moral compass that allows for a destructive path. Hence, we have rioting and looting. It’s a language of rebellion that reveals the level of frustration that many feel and have felt far too long.

Now is the time to dialog and bring about true legislation that will protect all citizens, as well as those behind the badge. This is the time the the African-American community must return back to its greatest institution of all time — the church. It is then that we can begin to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit that beget a beloved community.

I am truly hoping to see the rally for ballots over bullets, judicial reform over jails, and economic opportunity for all. We do not give up on the ability of God to provide help. It is His word that tells us, ‘If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.’

We now have the opportunity to give a clarion call of Jesus’ greatest commands to first love God with our all and also to love our neighbor. We can see things with the wide lens of personal love that God has for us knowing that My Life Matters.

The Rev. Keith Thomas is pastor of Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Champaign.

‘I still remember the first time I was called the N-word’

By RONDA HOLLIMAN



Their Turn Holliman

Judge Ronda Holliman outside the Champaign County Courthouse in Urbana.




This is my perspective as a mother, as a black mother of black children, as a black mother of a black son.

When you experience hate and racism, you never forget it. I still remember the first time I was called the N word. I can tell you where I was standing, that I was about 7 or 8 years old, what the weather was and the little white girl’s name.

And I can tell you every experience thereafter. And when the last time I was called the N word, which sadly, was last year.

But what worries me more is what my children will experience. What my son will experience.

These are my words.

First

I was a black girl

Then

I became a black woman

And

A black mother

And

A black mother to a black son

Thru each of these points in my life, my experiences with racism taught me different lessons

Left different marks on my soul

Now as a black mother of a black son I fear

some will see my son in a way that is not true

some will believe he should be feared solely based on the color of his skin

some will use their privilege, status or color in a way that can bring him harm

some will not see he is (will be) a man, worthy enough to return safely back home everyday

some will not see him as a person

HOW, as a black mother of a black son, do I prepare him for all of this

WHY, as a black mother of a black son, do have to prepare him for all of this, STILL

Being the black mother of a black son

you live with fear, uneasiness and anxiety

The worries of a black mom for her black son are immeasurable

Some of you will never know, experience or understand

#wearetired

Ronda Holliman is an associate judge in Champaign County Circuit Court.

‘The way we can overcome this is by reviewing laws and systems that keep us apart and abolish them’

By THE REV. ROBERT FREEMAN

‘Can we all get along?’ is the question we keep asking ourselves repeatedly. But I have come to realize that we may be asking the wrong question about race relations in America.

In the 1990s, we had town hall meetings and discussions on various issues within the Springfield community. We had moderators, and the people who chose to attend were given material to read so we could have healthy discussions about the issues.



Their Turn Freeman

The Rev. Robert Freeman, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Urbana.




In my view, maybe we should stop blaming each other and consider what caused a person or group of people to act in a countercultural way. Just maybe we should be asking ‘what?’ and not ‘who?’ Just maybe we all must evaluate where we are coming from and begin to say, ‘Help me to understand.’ Knowing that in pursuing to understand, you will have to resist being defensive and become a listener as people tell their story. Truly seek to understand and not persuade.

Malcom Gladwell gives us great insight in his book ‘The Tipping Point’ to what is happening currently and what has happened in the past. People can only take so much before they reach their own tipping point. We must acknowledge all people as human and of infinite worth.

From the foundation of the colonies until today, there are systems set up to divide us as human beings. We have been set up as the haves and the have-nots. Those who have are considered to be more cultured in society and deserved more respect and favors, while the have-nots are to be grateful for what the haves gave them. The have-nots are to show their appreciation by keeping in line and to serve those that have. Thus, setting up a system to ensure these two groups of people stayed in their group and on their side of the tracks.

The organization of many systems were set in place to ensure that those boundaries were not crossed. What does this have to do with us? In many villages, towns, cities, some of those same laws are still on the books. They are in place to ensure our separation and if any of us get out of place, it can be used to put us back in place. So, it is not a question of why, but a question of what is causing us to get to our own tipping point.

What is causing us not to trust one another? What is causing the faith communities to not support one another? Whatever it is, we call it racism. When people are kept in line by laws and systems that seek to lessen any person in this human race, it only builds resentment and mistrust.

The way we can overcome this is by reviewing laws and systems that keep us apart and abolish them and penalize those practices. We have to get to a point of being able to teach our complete history, painful as it may be, so we all can gain a better understanding of one another and not perpetuate ignorance as the norm of our humanity.

Lastly, we need to learn how to say I am sorry (repenting), and I love you (understanding) once trust is reached. Yes, we can all get along but, it will take us working together to see it through.

The Rev. Robert Freeman is pastor of First United Methodist Church of Urbana.

‘What would you do?’

By MARGARETH ETIENNE

As a lawyer, a law professor and a mother, I often think about what duties we owe one another. Are Good Samaritan laws a good idea? What sacrifices should individuals make for the greater good? In addition to feeling deep rage, sadness and bewilderment over the last week, I continue to ask the question of what we owe each other because it helps me think about what we should do next.

Here is what I know: We must care for one another.



Their Turn Etienne

Margareth Etienne




If this pandemic has taught us anything, it has taught us that American individualism has its limits. I despise wearing a mask. It’s uncomfortable and, as summer approaches, it’s hot and sweaty. Wearing a mask doesn’t protect me very much from infection but it protects those who encounter me in case I unwittingly and asymptomatically carry the virus. I wear a mask as an act of caring.

I can’t think about the callous murder of George Floyd in broad daylight without also thinking about the innocent bystanders who witnessed the event. They could have walked away as they were ordered to do by the police. They could have averted their eyes from this horrific scene that could traumatize them forever. They could have stopped their pleas and demands rather than risk the officers’ wrath. Instead of dispersing, the crowd assembled and shouted. George Floyd should never have died on the asphalt with state-sanctioned knees to his neck, back and torso. But at least he didn’t die alone, like so many others brutalized by the police.

If you can’t imagine yourself in Mr. Floyd’s shoes, try to imagine yourself in the crowd. What would you do? That’s the moment we should each plan for. In that moment, we must care for each other. We must call out racial injustice before, during and after it occurs. To do so is an act of caring and an act of humanity. Even if it doesn’t save a life, caring for one another can start a movement.

Thank you to the 17-year-old who took the explosive Floyd videos — and bravely shared them despite the predictable threats to her life. Thank you to all the amateur videographers who continue to document the acts of violence. Thank you for helping us all to bear witness by caring, in that moment, for the voiceless and the breathless among us.

Margareth Etienne is an associate dean and professor at the UI College of Law.

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Possible Raises Series B and Moves Fully Remote | State

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SEATLLE, Oct. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Possible raises $11 million in new equity funding to expand the team and to provide additional products for its customers. Union Square Ventures led the round, with participation from existing investors Canvas Ventures, Unlock Venture Partners, Columbia Pacific Advisors, Union Bay Partners, Tom Williams, and FJ Labs. The company has also secured $80 million in new debt financing from Park Cities Advisors.

Furthermore, the company is now fully remote and recently onboarded software engineers from across the US and the globe. Possible is committed to distributed work and actively recruiting for a number of other remote roles.

Possible provides friendly access to capital and a simple way to build credit for people who otherwise would get a payday loan or get hit with a bank overdraft fee. The company uses real-time financial data, rather than a credit score, to qualify customers and provide funds instantly through its iTunes and Android apps. Unlike payday loans or overdraft fees, Possible loans are paid back in small installments over multiple pay periods to allow customers to catch their breath. By reporting on-time payments to the credit bureaus, Possible enables its customers to build credit history and eventually qualify for cheaper, longer term financial products. On average, customers with low credit scores see their scores increase by 70 points within 4 months.

Tony Huang, Possible’s CEO explains, “So many people who live paycheck to paycheck can’t afford to build credit history. We’re helping them do it for the first time while providing them with a friendlier and more affordable small-dollar loan.”

Since launching in June 2018, Possible’s given out loans to hundreds of thousands of customers, helping meet short-term cash needs while building credit history or establishing credit for the first time. These customers, often with bad credit or no credit history, are underserved by traditional banks. Possible fills that gap and provides financial access to those who need it most while giving them the means to climb their way out.

Gillian Munson, Partner at Union Square Ventures, explains the thesis behind their new investment, “Through tech innovation, data-driven insights, and a focus on the customer, Possible is well on its way to winning the hearts and minds of both consumers and regulators alike, and building a trusted brand that endures.”

A 2019 Experian study shows 34.8% of consumers are subprime and can’t access money when they need it. They pay $106 billion in punitive fees each year to the existing financial system for short-term credit products. These consumers are trapped in predatory debt cycles of payday loans and overdraft fees without the means to rebuild their credit or improve their financial health. While there has been a number of new tech-enabled products in this space, most lead to similar debt cycles and don’t address the harder issue of improving long-term financial health. That’s where Possible comes in.

Since the company is now fully remote, Possible is actively hiring talent across the globe. Tyler, Possible’s CTO, explains, “Being fully distributed allows us to access the talent pool of the entire world. Our success so far is a reflection of the quality of our people, and we believe hiring globally will allow us to find exceptional people to join us in achieving our mission.”

About Possible

Possible is a fintech company based in Seattle, Washington. The company provides a friendlier and easier way for customers to access capital while also building credit history and improving long-term financial health.

About Union Square Ventures

Union Square Ventures is a thesis-driven venture capital firm based in New York City. USV manages over $1 billion in capital across seven funds and focuses investments in portfolio companies with the potential to transform important markets.

About Park Cities Advisors LLC

Park Cities Advisors LLC (“PCA”) is a privately held, SEC-registered alternative credit manager based in Dallas, Texas. PCA is focused on private lending across the specialty finance and FinTech sectors and provides debt capital to companies across a variety of industries through asset-based financing transactions.

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Possible Raises Series B and Moves Fully Remote | State News

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SEATLLE, Oct. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Possible raises $11 million in new equity funding to expand the team and to provide additional products for its customers. Union Square Ventures led the round, with participation from existing investors Canvas Ventures, Unlock Venture Partners, Columbia Pacific Advisors, Union Bay Partners, Tom Williams, and FJ Labs. The company has also secured $80 million in new debt financing from Park Cities Advisors.

Furthermore, the company is now fully remote and recently onboarded software engineers from across the US and the globe. Possible is committed to distributed work and actively recruiting for a number of other remote roles.

Possible provides friendly access to capital and a simple way to build credit for people who otherwise would get a payday loan or get hit with a bank overdraft fee. The company uses real-time financial data, rather than a credit score, to qualify customers and provide funds instantly through its iTunes and Android apps. Unlike payday loans or overdraft fees, Possible loans are paid back in small installments over multiple pay periods to allow customers to catch their breath. By reporting on-time payments to the credit bureaus, Possible enables its customers to build credit history and eventually qualify for cheaper, longer term financial products. On average, customers with low credit scores see their scores increase by 70 points within 4 months.

Tony Huang, Possible’s CEO explains, “So many people who live paycheck to paycheck can’t afford to build credit history. We’re helping them do it for the first time while providing them with a friendlier and more affordable small-dollar loan.”

Since launching in June 2018, Possible’s given out loans to hundreds of thousands of customers, helping meet short-term cash needs while building credit history or establishing credit for the first time. These customers, often with bad credit or no credit history, are underserved by traditional banks. Possible fills that gap and provides financial access to those who need it most while giving them the means to climb their way out.

Gillian Munson, Partner at Union Square Ventures, explains the thesis behind their new investment, “Through tech innovation, data-driven insights, and a focus on the customer, Possible is well on its way to winning the hearts and minds of both consumers and regulators alike, and building a trusted brand that endures.”

A 2019 Experian study shows 34.8% of consumers are subprime and can’t access money when they need it. They pay $106 billion in punitive fees each year to the existing financial system for short-term credit products. These consumers are trapped in predatory debt cycles of payday loans and overdraft fees without the means to rebuild their credit or improve their financial health. While there has been a number of new tech-enabled products in this space, most lead to similar debt cycles and don’t address the harder issue of improving long-term financial health. That’s where Possible comes in.

Since the company is now fully remote, Possible is actively hiring talent across the globe. Tyler, Possible’s CTO, explains, “Being fully distributed allows us to access the talent pool of the entire world. Our success so far is a reflection of the quality of our people, and we believe hiring globally will allow us to find exceptional people to join us in achieving our mission.”

About Possible

Possible is a fintech company based in Seattle, Washington. The company provides a friendlier and easier way for customers to access capital while also building credit history and improving long-term financial health.

About Union Square Ventures

Union Square Ventures is a thesis-driven venture capital firm based in New York City. USV manages over $1 billion in capital across seven funds and focuses investments in portfolio companies with the potential to transform important markets.

About Park Cities Advisors LLC

Park Cities Advisors LLC (“PCA”) is a privately held, SEC-registered alternative credit manager based in Dallas, Texas. PCA is focused on private lending across the specialty finance and FinTech sectors and provides debt capital to companies across a variety of industries through asset-based financing transactions.



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Business Loans – Make The Right Choice!

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Your business needs funding and there’s no denying that! ‘You need money to make money’ and this is most applicable in the business world! While it is fairly easy to start with an awesome idea, to make a business profitable, you need to invest a good chunk of capital.

Whether to buy equipment or hire the right minds, you need capital! And the best way to go about it is to search for the ‘right’ business loan solution. Finding the ‘right’ one amongst the plethora of available options is a tricky decision.

You’ll be under stress to match the repayment frequency. And thus, your business will suffer. Hence, finalizing the right business financing solution after analyzing your business structure, repayment terms, cash-flow, and urgency is the best practice.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of which business financing solution or small business loan will help your business better!

1. For Real Estate – SBA

SBA loan is one of the most popular loans for small business owners. This is pretty straightforward to understand but involves extensive paperwork. If you need a place to kickstart your business, this is most suited for you.

It is issued by a private lending party or a bank. But the interesting part is that this loan can be guaranteed up to 85% by the federal agency—Small Business Administration (SBA). Hence, lending institutions are free and content to give the loan.

The best things about this loan are the lowest down payments and low-interest rates. If you wish to pay in the very long term, you can do so. An SBA loan involves a lot of flexibility. The condition being you should have the right financial service provider to guide you.

2. For An Equipment Or Any One-Off Loan – Equipment Financing, Term Loan

Do you need a new computer, or a tablet for your employee, or maybe a vehicle for your business’ delivery needs? Equipment financing is best suited for such kinds of needs. You can also get up to 100% financing solutions.

But there is one drawback that you should be aware of. As long as the repayments are done on time, you’ll continue to have access to the equipment. But the moment you fail short of your commitment, the lending institution has completed control over ceasing it.

A business term loan is another solution for this kind of requirement. Term loans are based on the ‘term’ that can be anywhere from 1 to 5 years. So, the repayment has to be made in that time-frame. If you’re looking for business loans in Edgewater, NJ, this will be just about right for you!

3. Need To Balance Cash Flow – Business Line of Credit

Business Line of Credit is the best financing solution that can help you with balancing your cash flow or handling any emergencies.

You get access to a limited amount of funds for a set period of time that you need to pay with interest and as soon as you pay it back, your specific balance sheet is turned back to ‘0’. This indicates that you’re again eligible for using that fund.

You can do it repetitively. There is no drawback to this mechanism. So every time you have an emergency fund need, you can look towards the business line of credit.

The only shortcoming of this system is that the interest rate is high and may require collaterals for approval. However, it is one of the most appealing choices if you need capital and have a bad credit score!

4. Credit Card Based Businesses – Merchant Cash Advance

Do you own a business that involves payments via credit cards? If yes, then the merchant cash advance is the right solution for you.

A business like retail or food chain that makes use of credit card transactions the most, can utilize merchant cash advance to boost its business. The way this financing system works is, the lender will enquire about your daily credit card transactions to the terminal provider and get your exact details. Then, he will compare it with the asked amount. If both are in accordance, you’ll become eligible for the advance.

The repayment term is interesting for this financing solution. Instead of getting a fixed rate, the advance provider will give you the figure in percentage. So every day if you make $1000 and the decided percentage is 5, then $50 will be ‘withheld’.

A merchant cash advance acts more like an investment than a loan!

5. Have No Collateral – Invoice Financing, Equipment Financing

Not all businesses have the luxury of putting collateral on the line and getting access to the desired fund. If you fall into the same category, you do not need to worry! Invoice financing can help you out even in this crunch situation.

Your account receivables serve as collateral in this financing solution and can help you get a loan up to 85% of its worth.

The only downside is the interest rate that is marginally higher than the traditional solutions.

Bonus: For A Small Duration – Short Term Loan

What if you need a loan just for 18 months? You have some debt or need to manage the cash flow, but your requirement is small. Which loan is right for you?

Well, you can opt for a short term loan. This loan gives you instant access to a lump sum of money that should be paid within the next 18 months.

The best part about this loan is that bad credit doesn’t bother the process!

This can also support businesses that need temporary loans to manage or settle a few things. Businesses that do not need some loan that lasts for years!

But just like all other financing solutions, this loan as well comes with a few drawbacks.

The first one being the annual cost will be slightly towards the higher side and the second being that a few businesses may find it hard to cope-up with the weekly payments.

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