The Black Barber Who Launched A Credit Union

When neighbors started coming to his Little Rock barber college to borrow money, Arlo Washington went a step further and chartered Arkansas’ newest credit union.

People Trust Community Federal Credit Union (Courtesy photo)

Barbers have long been considered pillars of their communities. So when customers needed financial assistance, it felt natural to one Arkansas barber to fill a gap left by traditional banks and lenders.

In this episode of the Next City podcast, Executive Director Lucas Grindley talks with Senior Economic Justice Correspondent Oscar Perry Abello about his reporting on the Little Rock barbershop owner that chartered the state’s newest credit union. When payday lenders were banned in the state, Arlo Washington evolved his barber college into a loan fund to help his community. Then, during the pandemic, he opened a credit union to help people get access to federal aid.

If we’re ever going to close the racial wealth gap, Washington says we need financial institutions that understand neighborhoods “and can meet their community members where they are in the process of building their financial well-being.”

“There's a big difference in my understanding and your understanding,” says Washington, the founder and CEO of People Trust Community Federal Credit Union.

To learn more about the first credit union founded in Arkansas in over 26 years and the trailblazer behind it, Arlo Washington, listen to this episode below or subscribe to Next City’s podcast on Apple, Spotify or Goodpods.

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