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From Tandas to Bank Loans

José Quiñonez created an organization to help unbanked low-income immigrants establish credit history to be able to get credit cards, take out loans, buy a car, or rent an apartment. The former undocumented immigrant works with credit bureaus to get them to accept the practice of tandas or cundinas and other informal lending circles. His organization operates in 17 states and his model is being used in many communities.


Can the Flaws in Credit Scoring Be Fixed?

“While no one quite knows what the ideal mix of alternative credit-reporting sources should be, many think that ultimately incorporating more data into the most-used credit reports will do more to help economically marginalized groups than to harm them. In other words, the potential downsides of alternative data might be worth the risk.”

By Gillian B. White


MAF’s MacArthur Fellowship and Fight for Social Justice

“What MAF CEO Jose Quiñonez thought was a prank call was actually the news to inform him that he had won a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the MacArthur Genius Grant. The fellowship provides pioneers in the arts and sciences a grant of $625,000 to use at their discretion. After learning all about Lending Circles, we chatted with MAF about what they’ve been up to since receiving the fellowship.”

By Bill O’Connor


What it’s Like to Win a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award for Your Life’s Work

“As a society we have to reassess our assumptions about what is happening within not just immigrant communities, but low-income communities. We don’t give them enough credit for their ingenuity, for their innovativeness, for what it takes to survive and thrive in poverty. . . What we’re trying to do at MAF is actually say no, that’s not true. There’s more to it than that. We can actually build effective, successful programs, but we have to have different assumptions.”

By Taylor Mayol



MacArthur Foundation Announces 2016 ‘Genius’ Grant Winners

José A. Quiñonez, 45, the founder of the Mission Asset Fund, a nonprofit group in San Francisco that helps people build credit history based on informal lending circles common in immigrant communities and among others without access to bank loans, said he saw the award as a boost for the people he serves.

“Our laws and our policies tend to be really ignorant of the beautiful ways that people are helping each other,” he said.”

By Jennifer Schuessler


MacArthur ‘genius’ winner: This immigrant helps others build good credit

la-times-1“Jose Quinonez crossed the border from Mexico to California when he was 9 years old, accompanied by his five siblings, driven out of his home after the death of their father and mother. Three decades later, Quinonez is set to receive one of the most prestigious honors offered to American professionals: a MacArthur Fellowship, known as a “genius” grant.”

by Natalie Kitroeff


¿Por qué es importante tener un buen historial crediticio?

Univision Historial Crediticio Mission Asset Fund

Tener un historial crediticio en este país puede abrirle las puertas a nuevas oportunidades financieras, pero, ¿qué se puede hacer cuando nos niegan algún producto financiero por tener mal crédito?

Karla Henriquez, de Mission Asset Fund, nos habla de los recursos que pueden ayudar a construir un historial de crédito.


Designing for Financial Health


The success of Lending Circles reinforces the importance of knowing your clients holistically in order to serve their needs with consumer-focused delivery. The program tapped into an already existing social practice among immigrant communities, who often pool money for financial support. Lending Circles helped to formalize the practice to make it safer and more efficient, and turned it into a way for clients to build credit.


Theresa Schmall and Josh Sledge
February 6, 2016

Chase, Southwest Solutions launch zero-interest loan program for Detroit residents

Crain's Detroit Business Logo

Bringing Lending Circles to Detroit is the next step in Chase’s $100 million commitment to Detroit’s economic recovery. The bank recently awarded Mission Asset Fund, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps low-income and immigrant families gain access to mainstream financial services, a $1.5 million, three-year grant to expand Lending Circles to more communities across the country.

January 5, 2016