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How George Floyd’s death inspired this CEO to invest differently

Businesses always need cash on hand. By moving some of NerdWallet’s to credit unions, CEO Tim Chen is helping the local community.

How George Floyd’s death inspired this CEO to invest differently
[Illustration: Claire Merchlinsky]
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When Tim Chen, CEO and founder of the personal finance company NerdWallet, started thinking about how to take action in the wake of George Floyd’s death in 2020, he turned to his company’s own bank account. “I thought, Hey, every company has a lot of cash,” he says. “You need that buffer. Wouldn’t it be great if this money was invested in communities?” He decided to move $2 million to credit unions, which take risks on businesses and nonprofits in low-income neighborhoods and lend to people who might not otherwise qualify due to lower credit scores. Credit unions need capital in order to do this, and large companies can help just by opening new accounts (in NerdWallet’s case, via a certificate of deposit account). One credit union Chen deposited money with, called Self-Help, in Oakland, California, makes small business loans to Black-owned companies and helped fund an entrepreneur who opened a new grocery store in a former food desert. Chen hopes to inspire as many corporations as possible to follow suit. “The top 15 S&P 500 companies have a trillion dollars in cash,” he says, citing a report from Investors Business Daily and S&P Market Intelligence of their cash and investment holdings. “We’re encouraging them to think about [investing] something as low as 1%. Think about what 1% of a trillion is: That’s a huge amount that can be re-loaned out to the local community.”

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley, and contributed to the second edition of the bestselling book "Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century."

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