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Money Smart News - January 2004

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Tapping Into the Unbanked Market
Panel Four: Thinking Outside the Bank: How Groups in Your Community Can Help You Reach the Unbanked

The panel, "Thinking Outside The Bank: How Groups In Your Community Can Help You Reach The Unbanked," featured representatives of businesses, service organizations and community groups. The panel members were Clara Martinez, Vice President, Community Development, Wachovia Bank, Charlotte, North Carolina; Ernest Skinner, Vice President and Community Relations Director, Citibank, Washington, D.C.; Cynthia Amador, President, CHARO Community Development Corporation, Los Angeles; the Honorable Reverend Floyd H. Flake, Senior Pastor, The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York, Jamaica, New York; and James Ballentine, Community Development Manager, American Bankers Association, Washington, D.C.

Ballentine reminded everyone, "The unbanked are our family, our friends, our neighbors," he said. "They are black, white, Hispanic, Asian and Native American."

Skinner spoke of Individual Deposit Accounts-IDAs-and the success the Capital Area Asset Building Corporation has had with using IDAs to introduce the unbanked to financial institutions. "Citibank has been a leader in sponsoring IDAs as a means of creating first-time savers throughout the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area," he said.

Amador described CHARO, "A bilingual, bicultural business center that specializes in loan packaging, mortgage lending and investment assistance. Our debt advisory services people use the FDIC's Money Smart as a key tool to get people started with financial literacy," she said. "CHARO's goal is to bring the parties together-to find the best 'fit' between those who need financial services and those who provide them. When we succeed, we have a win-win situation and both parties benefit."

Martinez described Wachovia's financial literacy services. "We have committed more than $19 billion to community development," she said, "and we continue to encounter the serious need for more work in financial literacy. We encourage employers to allow employees to spend time in the communities working on financial literacy. Wachovia has a successful agreement with the FDIC to bring Money Smart training into communities where it is needed most, and we hope other employers will do the same."

Flake told of the quest for empowerment and respect within the community he leads. "We wanted a new building for our church," he recalled. "The search for a bank that would fund the project was frustrating. We found we had to change the paradigm of distrust we had for establishments like banks. Likewise, the banks had to overcome their distrust of 'unbankable' consumers. It took a lot of work to get both sides to take responsibility to trust each other. That's what's required-a relationship of partners who do business with each other."

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Last Updated 01/15/2004

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