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Showing up is just the first step

Impact 2023

In crisis after crisis, immigrant and low-income communities show up, prove their resilience, and contribute to our society. However, immigrant families are repeatedly overlooked and must navigate to find their own path forward.

At MAF, we recognize that the needs of immigrant and low-income communities are far too significant to be ignored.

In our work, we focus on the creativity and ingenuity of low-income and immigrant communities as they face a multitude of systemic barriers.

Financial security is foundational to every dream realized.

Time and again, we see clients’ resilience and creativity as they build opportunities for themselves and their families outside of a mainstream financial system that wasn’t designed with them in mind.  In partnership with community, we work to scale solutions using the best of technology and finance because we know that financial security is foundational to every dream realized. And we use our learnings and insights to advocate and organize our collective power for systemic change.

Join us as we show up, do more, and do better for immigrant and low-income communities.

Showing up is just the first step

Our approach of meeting clients where they are and building on what is good in their lives leads us to offer a suite of programs and services that address these challenges. But we don’t stop there. We build relationships, gather insights, and advocate for a more inclusive financial system that unlocks everyone’s potential.

Building trust and connection is the most important element of our work.

Business loans and coaching

Immigrant small business owners have established and grown their businesses in the face of inflexible regulations and exclusion, an especially daunting challenge for businesses operating informally. We learned firsthand the importance of building client relationships so MAF is seen as an ally in their journeys. This is where we shine: in understanding the unique challenges facing immigrant entrepreneurs, building trust as we provide business owners with loans, technical assistance, and coaching.

  • Self-enterprise as a critical financial strategy

    In 2023, 33% of clients across all of MAF’s loan programs reported participating in self-enterprise through self-employment, freelance work, or starting a business.

  • Entrepreneurship rooted in local communities

    • 4 in 5 businesses in our programs operate in the same zip code where the client lives
    • On average, businesses have been open for 71/2 years
    • 2 in 5 businesses expanded and created new jobs over the past year         
  • Business as Community at the Berryessa Flea Market

    MAF responded quickly to support the vendors whose lives and community were upended when the Berryessa Flea Market in San José announced its impending closure. Over the last year, we have provided vendors with sector-specific technical assistance, reliable loan products, financial education, and individualized coaching as they navigate a significant business transition period.

    Starting with selling fruit from a cart, Isidora now owns a flower shop that is helping to build a stable financial future for her family.

    “Don’t let fear hold you back, because fear will never give you anything. If we can conquer fear…more doors will open for us.” — Isidora, MAF client


    • Immigration status impacts confidence and control in finances.

        On average, clients who complete an immigration loan and then join a Lending Circle report 13% higher confidence and 7% higher control in their finances. For clients who then participate in a business loan, the effect is even greater: on average clients report 38% higher level of financial control.

      • Immigration loans help clients access new opportunities

        • 75% of immigration loan clients were applying for a USCIS status that would allow them to access a work permit.
        • 17% of immigration loan clients were applying to allow a family member to join them in the United States.

        Immigration loans and financial assistance

        Through our work with immigrant communities, we see how USCIS filing  fees strain families and prevent eligible individuals from achieving immigration security. MAF’s immigration loans and grants help families overcome this barrier. Our data shows that clients who secure immigration loans to adjust their status later return to MAF for business loans or Lending Circles, feeling more financially confident and in control.

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        Opening Doors to build credit and build community

        MAF’s signature program Lending Circles draws on the immigrant tradition of peer borrowing to empower members of communities to support one another. 

        We extend the reach of our programs and products through partnerships with deeply embedded community organizations. We scale proven initiatives like Lending Circles and business loans nationwide by leveraging a robust network of partner organizations across 18 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Our partnership model allows aligned organizations to use MAF’s lending platform and resources to offer zero-fee credit-building loans in their own communities.

        9 in 10

        credit invisible clients established a credit score

        4 in 5

        clients increased their credit score

        Financial goals in 2023

        40%

        of Lending Circles clients are using the program to rebuild their savings

        21%

        are paying down debts

        12%

        are purchasing assets such as a car or home

        27%

        are split fairly evenly across everyday expenses, family, medical and other financial needs.

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        Strengthening communities through financial recovery

        MAF has fostered trusted relationships with low-income communities by leveraging finance and technology to support them in their financial lives. Through MAF’s Immigrant Families Recovery Program (IFRP) we’re providing 3,000 families who were excluded from federal stimulus aid with monthly cash assistance and relevant financial services. We’ve also partnered with specific localities such as the City of Coachella, Daly City, and San Mateo County, to implement the program for their communities.

        Getting cash into the hands of families left out of pandemic relief is important, but we didn’t stop there. We are collecting data and insights on the lived experiences of immigrants to inform guaranteed income and financial services discussions that move us toward a more equitable future.


        Reimagining financial education, investing in innovation

        In our community-centered approach, we focus on the strengths of the communities we work with. From the beginning, we have been dedicated to creating pathways for community members to access timely and relevant financial education that recognizes them as experts in their own lives.

        From in-person workshops to streaming live charlas financieras to our MyMAF app, MAF constantly adapts to ensure that our financial education is relevant and accessible. In 2023, we continued to innovate and leverage technology to launch the MAF Learning Hub, allowing our community to access content, resources, and engagement opportunities anytime and anywhere.

        7944

        financial education participants

        93%

        reported learning a new skill

        98%

        would recommend MAF financial education to family and friends

        91%

        felt part of a community

        Doing more Scaling what works

        Throughout our work, MAF prioritizes rigorous research and evaluation so we can contribute effectively to conversations about what works in immigrant and low-income communities. We design our programs to illuminate clients’ financial strategies, innovations, and opportunities, focusing on factors that increase feelings of financial control and overall well-being. This client-centered approach ensures that our evaluation strategies treat clients with dignity and respect.

        Our sophisticated data management system allows us to demonstrate how our approach – putting clients at the heart of product design – effectively unlocks financial and economic potential.

        Reimagining financial education, investing in innovation

        • BEYOND CASH

          Learn more about the power of guaranteed income for immigrant families. In this webinar we discussed the financial hurdles faced by immigrant families and how MAF’s Immigrant Families Recovery Program (IFRP) helps them build resilience with accessible loans, bank accounts, and tailored financial education. Our panel, featuring experts Christopher Dokko, Efrain Segundo, José Quiñonez, and Joanna Cortez Hernández, explored how IFRP’s success can shape future policies and investments for lasting impact on immigrant lives. This webinar highlighted the transformative potential of combining guaranteed income with financial education. Watch the recording to learn how you can be part of the solution.

        • RESEARCH AT SCALE

          Intrigued by the intersection of data and social good? Our recent webinar explored the innovative practices of the Immigrant Families Recovery Program (IFRP), the nation’s largest guaranteed income program for immigrants. Gain insights into IFRP’s responsible data collection methods, our commitment to client privacy, and how we leverage data to champion financial equity. Watch the recording and discover the power of data to drive positive change for immigrant communities.

        • CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING

          Immigrant communities face a relentless onslaught of crises – denied essential support during the pandemic, struggling under the weight of rising costs, and targeted by hostile political forces. These challenges make building a stable financial future seem impossible. But how can nonprofits effectively support these families and communities amidst such turmoil? Watch this vital conversation between researchers and practitioners on the impact of these crises on immigrant lives. We’ll explore how nonprofits can adapt their programs to meet these needs and the strategies that keep us resilient in the fight for justice.

        • FINDING COURAGE IN CRISIS

          Don’t miss inspiring client stories! This webinar explored the power of immigrant entrepreneurship during COVID-19.  Despite immense challenges, MAF clients Luisa and Isidora shared their journeys to financial stability through business ownership.

          Watch the recording to gain insights from MAF’s research and witness the courage and determination of immigrant entrepreneurs who rebuilt after the pandemic’s devastation.  Learn valuable strategies for navigating financial hardship and be inspired by their stories of resilience.

        • GETTING RESEARCH DESIGN RIGHT

          This kickoff webinar for our webinar series explored the crucial role of research design with Princeton Professors Fred Wherry and Eldar Shafir. Delve into best practices used to design the research for the nation’s largest guaranteed income program for immigrants.

          Watch the recording to gain valuable insights from the experts and discover how research can shape the future of guaranteed income programs.

          Sparking conversations

          • MAF CEO José Quiñonez joins Federal Reserve Board

          • Community Advisory Council

          • BadCredit.org

          • TriNet podcast


            Doing better – What we are looking forward to

            WE ARE BRINGING TOGETHER A NATIONWIDE NETWORK OF NONPROFITS TO OFFER BETTER SOLUTIONS.

            Community-based and culturally relevant programs meet people where they are and respect their strengths. To support the challenges, journeys, and dreams of different communities across the U.S., we work with partners to find the programs that are right for their community, whether it’s Lending Circles, Immigration Loans, or Business Loans. All of our programs are supported by comprehensive, strengths-based education and MyMAF, our own financial coaching app.

            In 2024, we are bringing in new partners through our Lending Circles Communities campaign supported by the Wells Fargo Foundation.

            BUILDING A PATH FORWARD FOR GRANT PARTICIPANTS

            In addition to putting cash directly in the hands of low-income and immigrant families, we are continuing to engage grant clients in zero-interest, credit-building loan products and a suite of financial education offerings ensuring wraparound support is available free of charge to support families in their journeys to build wealth and increase financial security.

            Even though Diana was introduced to MAF through our COVID relief programs, she soon joined other MAF programs. Diana joined a Lending Circle in Houston with one of MAF’s partners. In community with other women, she participated in a Lending Circle for $200 per month and used the opportunity to raise her credit score from 400-500 up to almost 650 points.

            Empowering entrepreneurs and boosting small businesses

            Small businesses are crucial for reviving the US economy and improving families’ financial well-being. MAF is committed to aiding entrepreneurs in expanding their businesses and achieving their financial goals. Next year, MAF will provide timely, relevant technical assistance to immigrant entrepreneurs, particularly street vendors, to formalize their work and overcome licensing barriers. MAF will also offer culturally relevant financial services to clients and aid them in establishing a community as they start or expand their businesses.

            Pushing for systemic reform

            Building on our community-centered approach to financial services, we continue to collaborate with experts like Dr. Eldar Shafir and Dr. Frederick Wherry of Princeton University to share research insights that inform the conversation on immigrants and the economy — how families live, persevere, and thrive — as we collectively push forward toward a more just world. We use these insights to push for legislation and systemic reform that moves us toward a more equitable financial mainstream.