To help low-income consumers get back on their feet, New York-based Propel has notched $12.8 million in Series A funding. Nyca Partners led the round, along with the participation of Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz and Omidyar Network, as well as support from Thirty Five Ventures and Alexa von Tobel, the company said in an announcement.
“Our investors are world-class experts in their respective fields," Propel CEO Jimmy Chen said in the announcement. "They share an understanding of the challenges of low-income Americans and a belief that Propel can build a massive business by fighting poverty. We’re thrilled to have these partners on board.”
Propel has a free app called Fresh EBT, which 1.5 million Americans use each month. The service lets EBT cardholders manage their government benefits, such as food stamps. That can not only can save time, Chen told PYMNTS in a May interview, but can also make those recipients feel like they are part of the mainstream financial system. “Part of the reason the EBT card was invented was to reduce the stigma of government benefits, to make it feel like a financial tool,” he said at the time.
The app, which Propel said has garnered 20,000 five-star reviews, also has functions such as a job board and digital coupons to enable users to find ways to both earn and save money. It is free for governments and end users, as it makes money via employers, coupons and “other organizations [that] use it to promote opportunities for improved financial health,” according to the company.
One user from Virginia, for instance, learned how to manage her weekly spending and budgeting through the app. "It’s my own personal financial advisor," she noted. That individual also discovered a job opportunity through the app and sent in an application (one of 30,000 people who did so this year). She has been working in the position for several months, according to the company.