Bay Area startup addresses gender, racial disparities by helping educate women on finance

Sequin CEO and co-founder says it welcomes anyone regardless of gender identity

Melanie Woodrow Image
Wednesday, November 23, 2022
Bay Area startup gives women finance education
Sequin is a Bay Area startup that offers a debit card, bank account and financial education targeted to young women

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- When it comes to finances, the playing field may not be equal for men and women. The disparities are even greater for minorities. Now, one Bay Area startup is hoping to level the playing field.

Liz Aguilar graduated from Stanford University in June with plans to attend law school next year. For now, to save money she's living with her parents.

"My parents taught me a lot about saving. They did not talk to me about investing or stocks, bonds, anything like that, mostly because I believe that they were not very familiar with it as well," said Aguilar.

Aguilar isn't alone.

A 2022 Bank Of America Report found Gen Z women are saving less than their male peers.

The stats for Black and Hispanic women are worse.

According to a TIAA institute 2021 report, compared to White women, Black and Hispanic women are more likely to face economic challenges that depress their financial well-being.

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They're also more likely to engage in costly borrowing behavior, including making only the minimum payment on their credit card.

Something Aguilar says her parents taught her not to do. Still she says she wished she knew more.

"When I got to college, I took an econ class. My male counterparts would mention the stock market and they would talk about their investments. I think I was still quite lost even in my Sophomore, Junior year. Even today, I think I don't have as great of an understanding as I would like to," said Aguilar.

"I do think that I would have benefited a lot had I been taught a little bit more about financial literacy," she continued.

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Vrinda Gupta experienced similar challenges.

"Growing up, I really watched my mother in particular really struggle with the U.S. financial system and not feel confident," said Gupta.

It in part, drove her decision to work in finance, developing and launching credit cards until she had a wake-up call experience.

"I was rejected from the credit card that I helped build," Gupta explained. "I felt just as helpless as my immigrant mother felt in the financial system and I did not want to feel that way," she continued.

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Data analysis of Federal Reserve Studies on Household Economics and Decision-Making from 2019 to 2021 found that for all three years, women were turned down for credit more often than men.

Gupta says women are more likely than men to have authorized user accounts make up the bulk of their credit history, which may explain the difference.

She's now the CEO & Co-Founder of Sequin, a bank account and debit card geared specifically to young women.

Sequin membership includes access to financial education courses. "As we speak to young women, disproportionally, what we hear was I was never taught about finances and I always felt the guys knew something that I didn't, and that's what we are trying to make sure we do not hear anymore," said Gupta.

"It definitely is something that would appeal to me," said Aguilar.

Sequin also offers savings on women-focused brands fighting the pink tax, women paying more for the same or similar products and services than men.

While the debit card is geared towards women, Gupta says Sequin welcomes anyone regardless of gender identity.