Building better on ramps to the American Dream

Mike de Vere
February 15, 2024

Why Zest AI is updating our mission statement

It’s pretty simple when you want to make credit accessible, fair, and transparent. You build AI models that are explainable and follow compliance laws and regulations, and the automation that comes from that innovation increases access to credit. Once that’s out on the market and deployed with customers, you’re off to the races.

And just like that — boom. We’ve solved the credit access issue, right?

Okay, so maybe there’s some more work to be done beyond creating accessible, fair, and transparent credit. Which, just by itself, building credit models that increase fairness, transparency, and access is a huge lift, and one our team at Zest AI has worked relentlessly to achieve and still continues to perfect. Even though access to credit is important and something that still needs improvement, it only plays a part in a bigger picture of inequity still prevalent in our society. To quote a dear friend to Zest AI: Financial inclusion is the civil rights issue of our generation.

Working toward economic equity involves more than making better credit decisions. It means we look at the economic landscape and fix systemic issues blocking people from participating. We have to recognize that equity can only happen when everyone is looking at the same playbook and given access to the same opportunities to learn. And we have to work together — as lenders, innovators, researchers, and regulators — to create these solutions.

Because when it comes to building better on ramps to the American Dream, the work is best done when we open ourselves up to the possibilities of building a better world and doing so together

So, what is Zest AI doing about it?

We started by thinking about what we could do, what our mission was, and if that was reflective of the difference we want to make.

Fair and transparent credit has been our goal for fifteen years — after seeing that through, it only makes sense to think about what comes next. What’s the next thing that Zest AI can do to make the world a better place, and where can we really challenge ourselves to push the industry forward? These questions have led us to the next evolution of our mission.

To broaden access to equitable lending

We believe that AI can be a powerful force for good when used right. When technology is built with the purpose of being more ethical and more responsible, humanity is able to use it as a tool to do good in the world. Zest AI’s focus is being the catalyst for economic equity by leveraging AI's potential for good. AI has taken us, and our clients, so far, enabling lending decisions to be made faster, with more accuracy, and better consistency. Underserved folks around the country are gaining access to credit because of this work.

And we’re committed to continuing to push to be the most accurate and innovative partner to our clients when it comes to AI-automated credit underwriting. 

We’ve pushed into other parts of the lending ecosystem this last year, recognizing that clients don’t only need accurate and consistent decisions — but they also need AI insights for their portfolios. This way clients could feel prepared for any economic shift and continue lending when their borrowers needed it most. 

But we’re not stopping there, and I’m excited for the time when we can share more about all of the innovative ways we’re helping our clients work more efficiently and effectively in bringing equitable lending to the forefront of our financial systems.

Why Zest AI is committed to the work of our updated mission

First and foremost, we believe that everyone has worth and lending decisions should reflect that. And we think that matters to our clients, as well. By working together as partners, and then as a collective industry, we can make real a world where everyone has access to better, richer, and fuller lives. We can make a world where financial inclusion is a checked-off box on a list of things that we should do. We can make a world where the American Dream becomes, as Aaron Long said in conversation with me recently, the American Reality.

That’s the world I want. That’s the mission Zest AI is on. Will you join us?

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