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Hard work, vision and heart: The Fair fundraising initiative for refugees

Khalid Parekh is the founder and CEO of Fair, an ethical, socially responsible neobank and digital financial services platform that eliminates fees that can prevent financial freedom and savings opportunities. This World Refugee Day, Fair has partnered with USA for UNHCR to raise funds for refugees.

What is Fair and how does it help refugees?

Khalid Parekh: Fair is an ethical neobank. I started Fair in 2020 with a vision to offer products, services and experiences that were simple, transparent and packed with value. I also wanted to democratize access to financial tools for immigrant and refugee populations. Our platform has a lot of features designed with immigrants and refugees in mind — international money transfers, early access to direct-deposit funds, debit cards for kids and access to a network of more than 55,000 ATMs.

How is Fair partnering with USA for UNHCR?

Our partnership will raise funds for USA for UNHCR in two ways: 

  • When new members open and fund a free Fair Wealth Building Account (WBA) using this link between now and World Refugee Day on June 20, 2022, Fair will donate $50 to USA for UNHCR.
  • Fair will match 1 percent of each new member’s annual WBA balance with a donation to the organization each month that the account remains funded.

Through this initiative, customers can raise money for an incredibly important cause and organization while earning 4 percent APY on funds deposited into Wealth Building Accounts.

Can you share more about your personal experience and what motivates you to ensure refugees and immigrants have access to financial systems and services?

I arrived in the U.S. from India with just $100 in my pocket. I struggled navigating this new country, systems, and way of life where nothing was familiar and I encountered a deep, unexpected learning curve. Yet, I was so excited by what my future could hold that none of the obstacles I encountered deterred me. Not even when I was denied a small loan or found it hard just to open a basic bank account. 

After lots of hard work, I did eventually come through the learning curve on top, securing a financial foothold and starting the company I’ve been building and leading for almost 20 years, AMSYS Group. Yet, I will never forget how difficult it was as a new immigrant to use the U.S. banking system and how that informed my early years in America. With a country touted as the land of opportunity, while it has certainly proved to be that for me, it was something that I fought for and persevered with in ways that seemed far more difficult than necessary. In many ways, financial services are very personal to me, and I have always believed there are so many more opportunities for financial institutions to serve people who may not have been born here in the U.S., but will bring a wealth of experience, perspective and value into the fabric of our rich, diverse culture. 

How has the global refugee crisis – particularly in places like Afghanistan and Ukraine – impacted your work and product offering?

Refugee needs are escalating worldwide, but these crises quickly fade from the news cycle. The wars in Ukraine and Afghanistan are two of the highest profile cases, but this is certainly a global issue. As an immigrant, I know that moving to a new country can be hard, even when it is your own choice. However, being forced to leave everything you know to simply survive is a trauma that is hard to comprehend. In fact, since we launched Fair, our social impact initiatives have been focused on supporting refugees in this crisis. 

When Kabul fell last year after the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan, the Fair Fintech team saw an opportunity to help. We reached out to a nonprofit humanitarian organization working with tens of thousands of Afghan evacuees in U.S. communities. Fair partnered with several agencies to not only teach Afghan evacuees financial literacy, including how to bank in America, but also provided them with free bank accounts and debit cards.

And it wasn’t enough to give them access to bank accounts since they also needed the technology necessary to access their accounts. So, the AMSYS Foundation donated smartphones, including the cost of the first month of wireless service, to those that opened a Fair account.

If you could send one message to refugees this World Refugee Day, what would you say?

If I could send one message to refugees this World Refugee Day, it would be to share with them that there is a committed global community standing with them. The combination of their resilience and help from committed people around the world, refugees will find peace and achieve the goals they have for their future. I just hope the services of Fair can help them along their journey to safety.

To learn more about Fair’s partnership with USA for UNHCR, visit www.bankwithfair.com/lp/usa-for-unhcr

Jun 16 2022
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