“Most ideas are designed for a past that won’t return and a future that isn’t good enough.” — Mitchell Weiss, We the Possibility

This week I am delighted to have joined Esusu as Head of Product. Esusu is the pioneering fintech startup that boldly aims to close the racial wealth gap. Esusu allows apartment renters to establish credit through their rent payments, and my role is to further develop and expand Esusu’s product offerings.

This exciting moment brings to mind my own journey. Just twelve years ago, I came to the U.S. from the Philippines with $75 in my pocket and little direction. Like millions of other Americans, I needed some purchasing power and financial stability to find a job and a place to live. The problem that I encountered was that as an immigrant without a credit history, I could not get a credit card.

Yet the only way for me to build credit was by getting a credit card. I was fortunate that I had some help from family and friends, and I was able to overcome this initial hurdle. I eventually obtained a credit card, an apartment, and a tech job, and I was on my way.

Hard work yielded a great deal of luck, and in the following years, I was fortunate to co-found a fintech company in the payments space in 2016. Co-creating Sezzle was a marvelous experience that changed my life in many ways. I worked with a truly amazing group of people and I led a team of brilliant product and marketing professionals who helped solidify Sezzle’s position in the payments space.

Most of all, I learned the true value of my creative work and the importance of my ethics. By gaining these powerful experiences and insights, I have grown into someone with a clear understanding and a positive vision for the future.

As an Asian immigrant and a woman, I now recognize that my career trajectory is both uncommon and improbable. And contrary to what we would wish for, our societal system is not the golden meritocracy that necessarily rewards hard work and ingenuity as the key determinants of success and the building of generational wealth.

Today, a key predictor of a person’s financial wellbeing is the wealth of the family they belong to. (The System, by Robert Reich.) Our social and economic policies have made it hard for certain, large groups of people, disproportionately minorities, to be on the same playing field as those who have enjoyed privilege since birth.

I believe as a society we must develop and implement an economic model that is built upon innovations and technologies that reward both the creators and the laborers in a fair and sustainable way. The team at Esusu refers to this kind of economic plan as Justice Capitalism.

Esusu’s clarion call is, no matter where you come from, the color of your skin, or your financial identity, it shouldn’t determine where you end up in life.

In the United States and around the world, a racial wealth gap continues to widen, and homeowners have a median net worth of 89 times that of renters. The key component of this gap is home equity, which typically accounts for half of total household wealth. (Whiteness of Wealth, by Dorothy A. Brown; 2017 U.S. Census.)

Esusu boldly seeks to close the racial wealth gap by dismantling the barriers to housing equality for working families. Our mission is to provide the financial services needed to support an inclusive, fair, and equitable society where every American has a secure home and the opportunity to establish wealth.

In the past few weeks of transition, I have been meeting with a remarkable and diverse array of people on the Esusu team, each of whom lives to lift up others, and I am so invigorated and proud to call Esusu my new home.

Co-Founder, Former VP of Product at Sezzle