September 7th 2022 marked my first day as EVP of Inclusive Credit at Stratyfy. My onboarding week was a whirlwind of strategy sessions, team building exercises, and scavenger hunts around New York City. While traveling home at the end of a very productive and fun week, I had some time to reflect on my journey over the last two decades and what continues to keep me engaged and motivated in this space.
I’ve been fortunate to work with some wonderful organizations in the financial services and non-profit industries over the course of my career. I’ve helped create opportunities for entrepreneurs to start new businesses and for communities to expand and thrive. While all of it has been impactful, I can’t imagine achieving any of it without wholeheartedly believing in the missions of these organizations. Whether providing financing for an affordable housing project or leading a team of volunteers through DEI training, my work’s north star has always been the alignment of purpose and mission.
I began my career with a desire to help people and communities. I can recall working in my local bank branch as an intern helping seniors and members of immigrant communities understand account options, making the process a little less scary. At the same time, I was completing my finance degree at Howard University and using everything I was being taught to help rising Black and Latinx entrepreneurs create business plans. Years later at United Bank, I led a volunteer group to Ballou High School in Washington, DC, a predominantly Black high school in Ward 8, where we taught students how to build credit and prepare budgets with an emphasis on creating generational wealth.
These experiences shaped my understanding of the tremendous responsibility I have as a banker and finance professional. The work that I do at mission-focused institutions like Beacon House, Rochdale Capital, and now Stratyfy allows me to create real, sustainable impact in the communities that we serve.
So then – why Stratyfy? The use of advanced technology will be critical to the deployment of capital in communities historically denied access to capital. As bankers look for ways to reach unbanked and underbanked populations and solve for Black banking deserts, technology is an inextricable part of the conversation. I believe Stratyfy’s approach is truly ahead of the curve.
We must continue to innovate to find new solutions and more ways to provide inclusive financing. My work with Stratyfy will allow me to use my experience to enhance AI-driven products aimed at fighting bias while managing risk and increasing profitability for lenders while creating a better experience for the customer.
It is reported that fewer than one in four Black-owned firms have a borrowing relationship with their bank. This doesn’t mean that they don’t need capital. It means that we need to do a better job of making the connection between community and capital.
Being able to do this work is a privilege that demands our attention. Many are depending on us to get it right. We have the opportunity to ensure the dreams of Black and Brown business owners are realized and to reshape systems that have historically failed so many. We have the ability to change lives.
Shannan Herbert is EVP of Inclusive Credit at Stratyfy. Read the full announcement on her joining Stratyfy here.