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Lending a Hand

Project Name: Bonnie CLAC (Car Loans and Counseling)
Challenge: Car dealerships charge low-income Americans high interest rates, pricing them out of buying reliable, fuel-efficient vehicles.
Solution: Negotiate with banks and dealerships to arrange low interest rates and low sales prices for low-income individuals, while offering financial management courses to make sure they don't default on their loans.

Bonnie CLAC is a nonprofit organization in New Hampshire that helps people with lower incomes buy cars that are not only affordable but also fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly. Through the clever efforts of Robert Chambers, a 62-year-old former software entrepreneur, Bonnie CLAC saves most of its low-income clients between $4,000 and $7,000. Robert Chambers founded Bonnie CLAC because he was disturbed by his experience working at a car dealership, where he saw big profits being made off of low-income customers who had high-interest loans. He also knew that unreliable transportation often prevents the rural poor in America from holding a job. So Chambers started a second career as a social entrepreneur, negotiating with banks and car dealerships to get a low interest rate and a low price for low-income buyers, while offering financial management courses to customers to make sure they didn't default on their loans. An added benefit of the program derives from the fact that the cars are newer than most of the old clunkers being driven by low-income workers, thus New Hampshire benefits from the new cars' increased fuel efficiency and reduced gas emissions. Other organizations help the less fortunate get access to transportation, but Bonnie CLAC's approach tackles two problems — poverty and pollution — at once.

Learn More: Click here to watch "Lending A Hand", NOW's broadcast segment about Bonnie CLAC.

Contribute: To donate to Bonnie CLAC, click here

Appalachian Sustainable Development
Click here to watch "Lending A Hand", NOW's broadcast segment about Bonnie CLAC.

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