Evan Leaphart, cofounder of Black Men Talk Tech, knows first-hand what challenges Black men face in seeking funding for their businesses. And without a solid credit score, this problem intensifies—something Leaphart, in his early 20s, learned when he failed an employer’s credit check because of missed payments on his credit report that took him years to repair.
After learning this powerful lesson, Leaphart, now in his 30s, wondered why he had not been taught about credit as a child. This led him to launch Kiddie Kredit. Designed for ages 4 to 12, the mobile app converts the points kids receive for completing chores around the house into mock credit scores. For the points they earn, child users can be rewarded money or non-monetary rewards like more television time or a trip to the park. The robust tool is meant to facilitate early conversations between parents and their children about how credit works and what it takes to maintain a good score.
The company also recently partnered with credit bureau Equifax’s Equifax Foundation and its Builds Credit Initiative, which are providing financial literacy tools to kids in Atlanta and St. Louis.
“Most young adults do not have generational wealth as a safety net, but if they have a good credit score, they can get the funding that they may need for their business, or to be able to rent an apartment or buy a condo easier,” says Leaphart.
It takes more effort to repair credit than to maintain good credit, says Leaphart, something he learned the hard way. That’s why starting early is important. “The best thing I did was get a secured credit card,” he adds. “I put Netflix on it and set up autopay. Once I set that up and knew that it would be consistently paid on time every month, I didn’t think about it again.”
After about two years, Leaphart saw his score increase by 175 points. “That was the result of my taking credit seriously and learning how it worked,” he says. “This is what I want to do for everyone else with Kiddie Kredit.”
After taking the time to repair his credit, Leaphart was finally able to qualify for business funding for his startup, but it took time. And for many entrepreneurs of color who don’t have a family inheritance (Black families have 10 times less wealth than white families do) or a large emergency fund, good credit is crucial.
Kiddie Kredit, he believes, will instill this importance in young adults ahead of them navigating the real world of finances, where “credit can impact your car insurance rates, your cable bill and yes, even cell phone applications,” says Leaphart.
“If you wait until you are thinking about buying a home or starting a business to learn about credit,” he says, “you have already been affected by it in so many ways.”