Mission Asset Fund will franchise the Cestas Populares (CP) program in five San Francisco communities. The Cestas Populares program formalizes the financial activity that happens in traditional peer lending circles. Participants sign legally binding promissory notes where they agree to make payments towards their peer loan, and MAF reports the payment activity to the credit bureaus. Cestas Populares couples a culturally relevant loan product with peer-led, product-centric financial education and leverages timely moments such as loan origination and monthly payments to communicate with borrowers. CP has achieved great success over the past two years in helping low-income Latino immigrants build credit histories, learn to use credit wisely, and increase their financial capability overall. In partnership with the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), MAF will franchise this model to test its relevance and effectiveness in helping ethnically diverse participants in five communities access the financial mainstream. This project will also serve as a model for how to scale this kind of “product plus education” program at broader regional and national levels. The Cesar E. Chavez Institute at San Francisco State University is the evaluation partner for the Cestas Populares Replication Project.
MAF’s mission is to expand access to financial services, savings and investment opportunities for low-income and immigrant residents on San Francisco’s Mission District so that they can build a more secure economic future for themselves, their families and community.