Zest: One of Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas

Zest AI team

April 28, 2020

We’re honored to be selected as one of Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards. Now in its fourth year, the awards honor the businesses, policies, projects, and concepts that are actively engaged and deeply committed to flattening the curve when it comes to the climate crisis, social injustice, or economic inequality.

Our AI-based fairness tool, ZAML Fair, which dramatically reduces biases in lending, was chosen as an honorable mention in the AI / Data category by this year’s judges.

“There seems no better time to recognize organizations that are using their ingenuity, resources, and, in some cases, their scale to tackle society’s biggest problems,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists, under the leadership of senior editor Morgan Clendaniel, have uncovered some of the smartest and most inspiring projects of the year.”

ZAML Fair ranks a model’s credit variables by how much they lead to biased outcomes, and then carefully mutes the influence of those signals to produce a fairer, more accurate model in a fraction of the time and effort required by legacy techniques. Zest has helped lenders expand access to credit for underserved populations, with a 15% increase in approval rates on average. Its machine learning tools assess thousands of points of data (rather than a few dozen) to help banks, credit unions, and financial institutions gain a more accurate picture of borrower risk, leading to more good loans and fewer bad ones.

Most lenders assess their credit models for fairness only after they’ve built and trained the model. This limits their options to either tossing out offending variables and re-running the model or making the case for why an offending variable is needed. We don’t think banks should have to choose between fairness and performance. With Zest, lenders can deploy powerful, compliant, explainable—and fair AI models quickly and easily.

At Zest, we’re dedicated to making fair, transparent credit available to everyone. Given economic uncertainty as a result of COVID-19, we’re currently offering our monitoring and portfolio optimization capabilities in new ways to help lenders respond now.

You can view the complete list of winners at

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