Credit Building through Micro-Lending
What is the Independence Project?
The Independence Project, a credit building program of The National Network To End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), was established in partnership with Verizon and with seed funding from Thirty-One Gifts.
Through the Independence Project, advocates and local domestic violence programs across the nation can support survivors of domestic violence in improving their credit scores through micro-lending.
How can financial abuse impact a survivor’s credit score?
Almost all women who have experienced domestic violence have also experienced financial abuse. Financial abuse is a tactic used by the abuser to gain and maintain power and control over a victim. Financial abuse may involve the abuser preventing the victim from accessing or using a bank account or a credit card; exploiting the victim’s economic resources through job sabotage, identity theft, or credit ruin; and more.
For a survivor seeking safety, one common setback from financial abuse and overall safety, is the ruin of the survivor’s credit score. With a low credit score (typically defined as a score below 620), a survivor may experience difficulty qualifying for a credit card or a loan, securing housing, obtaining a new job, or even purchasing essential goods and services, like a vehicle or a cell phone. On the other hand, with a good credit score (typically defined as a score above 700), some of the most important economic resources, like credit cards and bank loans become more accessible, and may offer lower interest rates.
To understand what impacts a credit score and other important credit information, refer to Module 3 in the Moving Ahead through Financial Management curriculum.
How does the Independence Project work?
Through the Independence Project, a survivor can apply for a credit building micro-loan of $100 and to repay this loan over the subsequent 10 months with no interest. To achieve the best possible credit score improvements through this program, the survivor must repay consistently until the loan matures. NNEDV tracks each repayment made by the survivor and undertakes the necessary reporting to the three credit bureaus. The success of the program is incumbent upon each borrower’s commitment to loan repayment.
How does a survivor apply for an Independence Project micro-loan?
To apply for an Independence Project micro-loan, a survivor must:
- Have met with a domestic violence advocate at least three times.
- Complete the Independence Project Application Form
- Review and submit the application’s Terms and Conditions
- Submit a short form budget outlining monthly income and expenses
- Identify the method for paying the monthly loan amount
NNEDV is now accepting applications if you, or a survivor you know, is interested in applying for an Independence Project micro-loan. The Independence Project is not yet nationwide, continue to check back often as new states become eligible to participate in this program.
How can a survivor or a domestic violence advocate learn more about the Independence Project?