New venture, Emerge Workplace Solutions, positioned to save struggling U.S. workers $300 million with innovative employee benefit program.
Rubicon National Social Innovations took home first place June 18 at the Social Impact Exchange Business Plan Competition for its business, Emerge, which aims to alleviate workplace financial stress by providing a scalable alternative to predatory payday lending and similar 400% interest loan products. Emerge was selected from nearly 200 businesses for its ability to scale an innovation that improves the lives of people in need.
Rubicon National received $25,000 in financial support and $50,000 in consulting services from Public/Private Ventures during the inaugural conference to help grow Emerge, a certified B Corporation. The winnings will go toward the $500,000 in seed stage capital Emerge is raising to launch the business, which helps low-income workers save money, build credit and access fairly-priced, mainstream financial services.
“Rubicon National was created to be the laboratory for scaling social enterprise in the United States,” said CEO and Founder Rick Aubry. As one of the pioneers of the social enterprise movement in the U.S., Rick Aubry started and ran social enterprises, including Rubicon Bakery and Rubicon Landscaping, for more than 23 years as president of San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit, Rubicon Programs. “We learned in our first generation of social enterprises that to dramatically increase the impact of social enterprise we needed to re-imagine the scale of the businesses,” says Aubry. “Rubicon National takes the charge of finding, nurturing and scaling businesses that could have a positive and deep impact on big problems affecting low-income people in the U.S.”
Today, 106 million Americans have no access to fairly-priced credit and no alternative for short-term payday advances than to resort to predatory lenders at rates of 400%+ APR . To address this problem, Emerge provides employers with a critical new benefits package for workers—workplace loans and financial education—that effectively replaces payday lending using an online platform. It brings together employers, payroll service providers, responsible lenders, and hard-working employees who do not have access to credit with an innovative risk model and repayment method. The solution pieces together lower interest rates with longer loan terms, financial education, and the opportunity to build credit.
About Rubicon National Social Innovations
Rubicon National Social Innovations (rubiconnational.org) is a laboratory for scaling social enterprise. The organization’s mission is to create and support social enterprises that improve the economic well being of low-income people and communities across the U.S. RNSI believes for social enterprise to have a significant impact on poverty and jobs in America; it must be re-imagined on a much greater scale. Its strategy is to work with businesses, local government, foundations, and nonprofit partners to develop nationally-scaled, social purpose businesses that rely on market forces to achieve financial sustainability while maximizing social returns for working poor and disenfranchised communities.
The roots of the organization’s work started more than 20 years ago at the founding organization, Rubicon Programs. In 2007, Rick Aubry, president of Rubicon Programs for over 23 years, incubated RNSI as a project inside of Rubicon Programs to test ways to increase the presence, impact, and positive benefits of social enterprise in the U.S. Since July 2009, Rick Aubry has led RNSI as a separately-governed nonprofit. To date, RNSI has incubated and launched a financial services business, and piloted and begun scaling a bulk items social enterprise. The organization is about to pilot and scale an energy efficiency weatherization social enterprise, and has begun work on a food access social enterprise.
About Certified B Corporations
Certified B Corporations 1) meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance; 2) legally expand their corporate responsibilities to include consideration of stakeholder interests; and 3) build collective voice through the power of the unifying B Corporation brand. As of February 2010, there are over 280 certified B Corporations from over 50 industries, representing a diverse multi-billion marketplace.