There is a stark difference between what you can pay for and what you can afford. Especially with the holidays coming up, transactions–that is, the exchange of money between family, friends, and loved ones–will increase. Enter Zirtue. Dennis Cail, the CEO and founder of the relationship based loan platform, met with DW to discuss how he founded the platform, but more importantly, why it’s necessary to Black communities.
“How many family members did you loan money to before you founded Zirtue?” we asked. Promptly, and without reservation, Cail responds, “Too many.” Zirtue allows individuals to transact loans from person to person. Different than other money transaction apps, Zirtue tracks what the money is applied to and automatically pays back the loan once a deposit in the debtors bank account is received. It allows for a more seamless transition from indebted to debt free.
“I grew up in low-income housing in Monroe, Louisiana.” Cail says, “we didn’t have banks. We had several liquor stores that will cash your checks for 20-30% of whatever your check was. Even at 7 or 8 years old, I knew that was bad math.” The entrepreneur goes on to explain that “check cashing places” and other predatory lenders would target on several demographics he represented: low-income, minority, and military veterans and service members.
Zirtue allows people with means or those in different financial circumstances to be the life boat to family and friends. In communities where banks are not lending or the only option is a payday loan, Zirtue creates options that avoid high interest rates, but preserve the close relationships that lending money can undermine. “Nobody wants to ruin Thanksgiving or Christmas. Now I’m the bad guy for asking for the money back that I was kind enough to loan you.”
“Leadership is one of the core qualities” the Navy veteran took away from the military. “Structure…and the whole notion of teamwork mean something different to those who have served in the military.” But Cail explains that his journey as an entrepreneur has been filled with lessons. “But there are some things I had to unlearn. I had to be agile, I had to adapt…because every day is different.”
He vowed, “If and when I had the time and resources to chip away at the [financial problem], I would.” Cail has developed Zirtue, which he believes is the first step in a new way of casting a financial lifeline. Zirtue can be downloaded from the App Store and on Google Play.