In many poor communities, people are forced to use check-cashing stores to cash their paychecks. Predatory lenders, such as finance companies and loan sharks, are often the only source of credit in these communities. In this context, providing simple services such as checking and savings accounts, and making small loans for the kinds of expenses a middle class family might put on a credit card are important community development activities.

Real stories

Eddie Ayers founded Demopolis Federal Credit Union in the days of the Civil Rights movement. Today this credit union provides basic financial services as well as small-business loans.