Kristy Kim is used to finding solutions to problems that others would think they have no control over.
In 2011, the South Korean immigrant had just graduated college and was rejected five times for an auto loan because she didn’t know she had to have credit. Eight years later, she created TomoCredit, an $18 million fintech startup that allows first-time borrowers to build credit history based on their cash flow rather than their credit report ratings.
Now, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision leak about the likely overturning of Roe v. Wade, she has decided to spring into action again.
“I’m like, ‘Okay, always in life there are certain things that are out of my control, but what can I do?’” the San Francisco-based entrepreneur said. “My immediate idea was, ‘If the government is not going to take care of women’s rights, then maybe [my] company can.’”
In anticipation of the landmark ruling’s reversal, Kim has decided to cover expenses up to $5,000 if any of her 50 employees, who are scattered around the country, run into legal issues as a result of anti-abortion laws. She also said she would contribute up to $2,500 for both travel expenses and out-of-pocket medical costs for abortion care. The new policy extends to employees’ partners as well.
“The agenda now is how to retain employees and how do we care about them, and I think it’s quite important for corporate America to say they care about their female employees,” Kim said.
When Kim’s parents sent her to live in the United States at age 11, she grew up thinking she lived in a country where “women and men have truly equal power” and “women can reach their full potential.”
But she has seen rampant sexism at work, especially in the tech industry. She had trouble getting funding when she first started TomoCredit — it was “slower and harder” than she would have liked — but now, with more than 2 million applications and a fourth round of undisclosed funding about to close, she sees an opportunity to help make her adopted home a more equitable place.
“For me, it’s important to make a point that it’s not just about women’s reproductive rights — it’s about human rights,” she said.
It’s also a personal issue for Kim. “I’m turning 34 this year, so the childbearing is something I think about a lot,” she said. “I’m not planning to have a kid right now, but I think about it because I realize it’s something that women need to plan, especially when they’re really serious about their careers and have demanding jobs.”
Her message likely resonates with her clients, the vast majority of whom are Millennials and Gen Z’ers. The TomoCredit credit card is issued by Community Federal Savings Bank, a member of the FDIC, and credit limits run from $100 to a maximum of $30,000. Borrowers can also link to their investment accounts to boost their credit limits.
Kim is planning on expanding to auto loans and mortgages.
“Under the Tomo umbrella, customers don’t need to even know their credit score, because we will support them throughout the journey,” Kim said. “Let’s say you walk into Wells Fargo and get rejected, whether it’s for a mortgage or auto loan or a credit card. But we will still evaluate you — that’s the fundamental difference.”
Besides launching new products, she has also been busy writing posts on Medium after conferring with other female tech leaders about taking on abortion rights.
“For me,” she added, “it’s really important to know that childbearing is under my control. It’s my body, it has to be under my control and my timeline.”