Habitat for Humanity and United Way Partner with SoLo Funds' New Initiative SoLo Causes: 'Make an Impact'

“I think we can be a model that companies can do well and do good at the same time and that people should be prioritized over profits,” SoLo Funds co-founder Rodney Williams tells PEOPLE

SoLo Funds
SoLo Funds. Photo: Courtesy of SoLo Funds

There's a new way to pay it forward.

The loan service SoLo Funds announced Tuesday that it is partnering with Habitat for Humanity and United Way to continue its mission to help those in need across the country.

SoLo Funds is an "innovative marketplace community" where members can either "borrow on their own terms or lend to each other," co-founder and chairman Rodney Williams tells PEOPLE.

After launching in 2018, more than 300,000 users have helped process over 100,000 emergency loans — and now Williams wants to "give our members the ability to make an impact."

Thanks to its new philanthropic initiative SoLo Causes, SoLo Funds users will be able to allocate "a portion of our revenue to non-profits that benefit our communities," says Williams.

"We noticed we had an opportunity to do more and SoLo Causes is our announcement to do even more," the Baltimore native explains. "Not only are we going to give a portion of our revenue today, we're making a commitment that by 2023 that 100% of our donation revenue will be distributed to non-profits."

Williams and fellow co-founder and CEO Travis Holoway (who hails from Cleveland) initially created SoLo Funds to "provide an equitable alternative when someone needs emergency funds." They selected United Way and Habitat for Humanity as their inaugural philanthropic partners by "choosing non-profits that our members were passionate about."

"Tight economies and tight resources created challenges for a number of communities. What we both discovered is this isn't just a problem with Baltimore or Cleveland. It was a much bigger problem and it was a problem that a lot of Americans face," Williams notes, "and we want to go out and fix it."

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In fact, returning to his hometown of Baltimore during the holiday season and seeing those cash emergencies in action is what sparked Williams' "personal commitment" to help if someone cannot afford a light bill or a flat tire.

"Power can be turned off, maybe someone's not getting a Christmas gift. It's a pretty challenging moment, and it's not just challenging for that person it's challenging for their friends and family, because usually the burden will rely on the friends and families, because that's the No. 1 option when someone has an emergency," he says. "But what happens when the friends or family also are pretty tight?"

While the charity partnerships are effective immediately, SoLo members can expect to start making a difference with Habitat for Humanity and United Way in early Q1. Other non-profits will eventually be added as options as the program progresses.

"I think we can be a model that companies can do well and do good at the same time and that people should be prioritized over profits," Williams shares.

"As a financial service company, it's important," he continues. "As a financial service company founded by members of underrepresented groups and communities, it's personal, and that personal nature makes it worthwhile."

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