By Lisa Semel & Stacey Tisdale
Ennie Lim understood firsthand how easy it is to find yourself in the need of short-term cash, and how hard it is to create long-term financial security, after her divorce in 2016. What she couldn’t imagine, was that less than two years later, she would be sitting on top of a company with $100 million dollars in available credit as a result of her commitment to help others who were experiencing the same type of financial insecurity.
“After my divorce, I couldn’t afford to live in the Bay area, so I moved back to Montreal, to my old bedroom in my parent’s home. It was one of the most challenging experiences of my life, a huge hurdle, I didn’t know how I was going to start again,” says Lim.
The Realities of Financial Insecurity
Lim not only realized she was not alone, but she also began to grasp what a big social problem short-term funding needs are, and how that kind of financial stress can impact a person’s ability to function in other aspects of their lives, including at work. According to a recent survey, employees who are struggling financially are absent from work nearly twice as many days as employees who are not worried about their finances.
“Our main mission is to provide affordable credit to employees when they need it. Seven out of 10 workers today don’t have $500 in savings and to predatory payday lenders for that needed infusion of cash to cover the unexpected expense,” says Lim.
“While the predatory lending space has the legal right to be in business, it doesn’t solve the problem. Employers often don’t know about these financial problems because the employee doesn’t share that info. But the stress affects an employee’s engagement, productivity and health,” she adds.
A Sweet $olution
To help solve the problem, Lim and co-founder Benny Yiu created an alternative to payday loans, which can rack up over 300% in annual interest charges. Their company, HoneyBee, offers a short-term, no interest loan product for employees, using the cash reserves from paid vacation time not taken as collateral. Employees pay only a nominal fee of 5% (max $50). With 52% of American workers not taking all their time off, for various reasons from affordability to family obligations or just the fear of being away, this is a significant number of people who can benefit from Honeybee’s loans.
“There is nothing like this in the world. We’re already having a positive impact and helping people and we haven’t had any one default. It requires companies to innovate. I believe HoneyBee will have a huge effect on the way we see affordable credit” says Lim.
Sheconomics and Gloria Steinem
Come meet Ennie Lim on November 30 and hear her story at the ‘Sheconomics panel,’ part of the Winning Play$ benefit performance of “Gloria: A Life” at the Daryl Roth theater in New York, featuring a rare appearance by Ms. Steinem, and starring Academy-Award winning actress Christine Lahti. Click here to get tickets!
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