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Case Study

How Finli Uses Fintech To Support Black-Owned Businesses

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The Pandemic’s Effect on Small Businesses

Almost 50% of American workers are employed by small businesses, which makes small businesses the gateway to income and improved financial health for millions of people across the country. COVID-19 exposed the financial fragility of these small businesses as they needed to pivot their business models, pause operations, reduce costs, take on more debt, or shut down due to the economic fallout resulting from the pandemic.

Finli, a fintech company and participant in the 2020 Financial Solutions Lab Accelerator program, developed a software platform to help small business owners handle the administrative burdens of their business – invoices, payment processing, and communications – so founders could focus on what they do best. Finli improves the financial health of self-employed professionals and small business owners – many of whom are the sole employees of their businesses – by decreasing the cost and administrative burden of sending invoices and receiving payments. This allows professionals to keep more of their hard-earned revenue than using other payments platforms. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Finli noticed its small and midsize business customers were struggling and launched a grant program to support Black-owned businesses.

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Customer Spotlight: Building a New Business Plan for Virtual Yoga

Dr. Ebony Utley founded Ebony Yoga with the goal of providing unique yoga experiences that celebrate bodies of color. Like many small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic brought her operations to a halt. She realized that she could teach her classes virtually, but the transition required much more than a simple flip of a switch. Dr. Utley needed help simplifying the backend administrative functions of her business so that she could focus on teaching, capital to cover the equipment costs for virtual lessons, marketing and recruitment support, and more.

Supporting Small Businesses and Black Founders

While searching for help to run, pivot, and finance her business, Dr. Utley discovered Finli, which offered:

    • Administrative assistance with invoicing, payment processing, and customer communication so she could focus on her passion: teaching yoga. Finli’s technology enabled the complete virtual transition of the class, which now has more students than when it took place in person.
    • A way to transition to a virtual-learning business and also market her class online. Finli’s support ultimately removed expenses like business overhead and transportation costs and marketed her class to prospective yogis.
    • Access to a grant fund for Black-owned businesses – a fund which, at the time, had raised $17,000 to help Black entrepreneurs stay afloat during the pandemic. Dr. Utley used the grant to purchase new equipment to upgrade her home studio including lights, HDMI connectors, and screens.

“The Financial Solutions Lab has done so much good for Finli. They’ve been a great sounding board for investments, made invaluable introductions to impact investors, and are dedicated to helping us grow in order to get the capital we need.” 

-Lori Shao, Founder and CEO, Finli

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