Abena Sidibe, a Crown Heights resident and teacher in Brownsville, said it was only a few years ago when her sisters would tease her about how she “loved to open her mail and pay bills.”
But as life soon changed (as it often does), Abena began to experience financial difficulty as she struggled through a separation with her husband while trying to pick up the pieces from a failing family business in which she had invested a lot of money.
Not before long, her credit was ruined and her finances were in serious need of repair. She took a few financial workshops at Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and aligned herself with a financial counselor who eventually referred her to Brooklyn Coop.
“Now, I’m on my way from moving out of the tiny one-bedroom with my two kids towards getting my own condo or home,” said Abena. “I mean, it’s still a process. But I really don’t think it would have happened without the coop.”
Do you BCoop? It’s a question to ask yourself because banking isn’t about bankers and bond holders. Banking is about people. It’s about real-life Brooklyn stories and community banking services that enrich the lives of the people in it, whether by providing mortgages, issuing credit cards with humane interest rates or lending to small businesses.
In this series titled, Do You BCoop?, we’re spotlighting customers of Brooklyn Coop and sharing their stories of how cooperative banking has nourished their dreams.
How long have you been with Brooklyn Coop?
One and half years.
What services of Brooklyn Coop do you use?
Their credit-builder loan and savings
Did you attempt to get a loan from other banks before Brooklyn Coop?
Yes, [one of the major, well-known banks in Brooklyn].
What are some of the things you really like about Brooklyn Coop?
With Brooklyn Coop, I find that as a smaller bank, it’s like a family-friendly feel; it’s more of a partnership
How did you find out about Brooklyn Coop?
I got in touch with them through the Bed-Stuy Restoration Corporation office of financial planning, because I was trying to improve my financial status. The financial planner at Restoration sat down with me and said, “Listen. We need to come up with a plan. It will take a while. But one of the quickest ways to build up your credit is to a credit builder loan through Brooklyn Coop. I will put you in touch with them.” I went and did exactly what he said.
Have you referred anyone to Brooklyn Coop and have they become customers?
Yes, I referred my two sisters. They’re now also members. Since I referred them, their financial situations also have improved. I mean, they still have a ways to go. And so do I. But I’m out of the hole I was in. And they’re now now in a much better financial position than they were before.
How was your experience getting a loan from Brooklyn Coop?
If it wasn’t for Brooklyn Cooperative, I would not have qualified for the loan. I had to pay down my debts, looked into financial education classes, and work on rebuilding my credit. But now I see the results.
Do you feel it’s important to bank at a cooperate?
I was with private banks before. And it’s funny, because I closed those accounts and I now pretty much just bank with the coop. What I find is that the bigger banks are not as personable or sensitive to your needs. The tellers at Brooklyn Coop sat with me, went through everything line by line and gave me advice on what I should do… When I started my first credit-building loan, after six months I was done, and then my counselor encouraged me to get another one and continue. Im happy that they pushed me, because now, I’m on my way towards financial stability. But I really don’t think it would have happened without the coop. Really.
To read other BCoop stories, enter “Do You BCoop” into the search window of the website!