COO Carl Memnon, CEO Christian Joseph and CTO Patrick DeSuza.
In the United States, cash is not king. The credit is.
Credit is considered when applying for rental opportunities, mortgages, business loans, and vehicle purchases, among others, but much of the country struggles with credit issues. Specifically, African Americans.
54% of black Americans either do not have established credit or have a poor or fair credit score, which is below 640.
Conversely, only 37% of white Americans reported the same, and less than 20% of Asian Americans report similar creditworthiness.
It’s a problem that credit platform founders Grain were all too familiar.
Christian-Robert Joseph and Carl-Alain Memnon, longtime friends, knew how difficult it could be to establish credit. Originally from Haiti, they watched their families struggle to get lines of credit and make big purchases. when they arrived in the United States.
After years of working in finance and technology respectively, Joseph said he was inspired to do something about the disparity.
“About five or six years ago I was working in the Bay Area, where technology is very prevalent and so is gentrification,” Joseph said. “Usually the victims of gentrification are people who look like me. And I quickly realized that I was part of the problem,” said Joseph, who at the time worked in project management for Dropbox in San Francisco.
He said he wanted to find a way to fully democratize access to credit, but also allow people to build credit responsibly without falling into crippling debt, which is how Grain’s idea was born.
After joining forces with his Memnon, their friend and eventual third co-founder Patrick De Suza came on board soon after due to a common mission. He, too, might identify with difficulties with credit literacy.
“During the first one or two conversations[withChristianandCarl}Iwasprettymuchsoldontheideaofjoiningthecompanyandhowitcorrelatedtotheirpersonalexperienceswithcredit”saidFromSusan“MinewasalittledifferentIdidn’tgetmyfirstcreditcarduntilaftercollegeandIhadajobahigh-payingjobatthetimeAndIthoughtthatsincethebankwaswillingtogivemea$10000lineofcreditIcouldtakeitandspenditallIttook10yearstorepayifoffSothisnotionofcreditcardsreallytakingadvantageofpeopleandputtingtheminasituationwhereyou’respendingwhatyouthinkisfreemoneyIwantedtohelpchangethat
Grain, a credit access platform, stands out because it determines credit allocation based on consumers’ cash flows rather than their scores. The founders say this is critically important because credit companies can often be predatory on those who don’t fully understand how credit works. In addition to the cash flow model, Grain has also implemented safeguards to help curb spending habits that may come back to bite the consumer later.
“We’ve implemented warnings and other educational components within the platforms that signal when users are overspending,” Memnon said. “We’re basically aiming to help save people from themselves.”