Products-in-a-Box Initiative

CBA's Products-in-a-Box (PIAB) program supports nonprofits in choosing and offering small dollar consumer loans and other credit building products that meet the needs of specific populations in their community. As part of PIAB, CBA partners with practitioners and researchers to create toolkits of best practices, guidance, and resources for providing small dollar consumer loans.  Some of the information in the toolkit can be generalized across small dollar consumer loans of all type, and in some sections, we provide guidance and considerations for a specific population and use. We urge readers to use whatever components of the toolkit seem relevant for their context, and to contact CBA with suggestions for improvement or ideas for new toolkits at programs@creditbuildersalliance.org.

If you are interested in offering small dollar consumer loans to specific populations in your community, or partnering with a lender who can provide these loans, this toolkit is for you! This toolkit is specifically made for organizations that are:

  • Already lending and considering or planning to add to their loan portfolio;
  • Not yet lending but providing population-specific services and interested in providing loans as a complimentary support for that population; or
  • Providing population-specific services or funding and want to partner with a lender to create a loan product that meets the needs of the population that they serve.

In the following sections of this toolkit, we will guide you through the steps of creating and offering small dollar loans that meet the needs of specific populations. Part 2 discusses the field of small dollar consumer lending and financial capability. Part 3 provides ideas and guidance for the initial planning for and infrastructure needs of a loan program. In Part 4, we detail the different elements of loan design and managing a loan portfolio. Part 5 walks through the steps of loan implementation from marketing the loan to borrower repayment and graduation. Lastly, the appendices provide sample loan documents and additional ideas and resources for small dollar lenders that aim to meet the needs of a specific target population. For organizations setting up a loan program for the first time, we hope that this toolkit enables you to learn from others in the field and minimize roadblocks that you will inevitably face along the way. For lenders who are experienced with the fundamentals of providing loans, we urge you to pick and choose sections that may help enhance your current knowledge base.

CBA partnered with the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) to create this toolkit through a variety of methods:

  1. CBA surveyed its members in the field who offer small dollar loans to collect information on specific loan design features and processes.
  2. CBA conducted follow-up interviews to gather more in-depth qualitative data about the organizational experience of offering specific small dollar loans.
  3. CFSI and CBA gathered data from first and second-hand sources on examples of best practices in small dollar lending and population-specific loans.

CBA synthesized the survey, interview, and best practices data by vetting it through focus groups with on-the-ground practitioners and other stakeholders.

While this toolkit is full of recommendations, ideas, examples, and key considerations for providing small dollar loans, CBA recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all product or implementation strategy. Your organization and partners will be responsible for customizing  the loan to meet the needs of your specific community. We encourage you to use whatever piece(s) of the toolkit feel relevant and useful to you.

Additionally, as policies, regulations, and other contexts change (at local and national levels), and innovations in lending emerge, the information in the toolkit may change as well.  We urge you to consider this a living toolkit that can evolve over time. To that end, we would love to know more about how you are integrating the toolkit into your work as well as if there are parts that could be improved or updated. Please share your feedback by contacting us at programs@creditbuildersalliance.org.

Lastly, this information is not intended to be legal advice and may not be used as legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each situation. Every effort has been made to ensure this information is up-to-date. It is not intended to be a full and exhaustive explanation of the law in any area, nor should it be used to replace the advice of your own legal counsel.

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