Gig Wage focuses on payroll solutions for the gig economy, and through a recent initiative, it’s finding ways to provide financial stability for workers in the space.
The Dallas-based startup, in partnership with Austin fintech Green Dot Corporation and national nonprofit Commonwealth, has spent the past few months working on a study to find which types of “financial interventions” best help provide financial security and increase inclusion to low- and moderate-income gig workers.
“Our mission is economic empowerment, period. We exist to empower the gig economy, the companies, and the contractors involved,” said Craig Lewis, Gig Wage founder and CEO. “How can you empower someone if you don’t understand it? There’s been a lack of understanding, a lack of interest, a lack of services, and lack of empathy. We want to get involved to start to set the tone on what that understanding should be, so that we can replicate it at scale.”
Stipends found most impactful
Over the past four months, the organizations offered 60 gig workers the option of receiving a weekly stipend of $80 or a $1,000 grant or loan. According to the Dallas Morning News, the first choice had the biggest impact on financial stability and worker engagement. Through the study, the organizations found that the money that workers received largely went to things like rent, vehicle costs, and medical expenses.
The company said it’s continuing the research into the future.
For the study, Clarisa Lindenmeyer, chief of staff to the CEO at Gig Wage and the company’s leader on the study project, said the company focused on Black, Hispanic, and female gig workers, noting that those groups have historically been disproportionately affected by financial volatility. According to a Pew Research Center report from last year, 30% of Hispanic adults and 20% of Black adults have participated in gig work. Overall, the report says 16% of the total U.S. population has participated in gig work, noting that people with lower incomes are more likely to participate in the gig economy.
“Specifically around COVID, there are unique financial challenges. We’ve seen the data of those particular groups being drastically affected,” Lindenmeyer said. “When you look at who are the groups that need the most help… those were certainly the ones (Commonwealth) wanted to focus on, crafting tools that meet their needs, not tools that are created for other people and then happen to help them.”
Green Dot fuels Gig Wage’s growth
Gig Wage’s relationship with Green Dot goes back to late 2020, when the provider of prepaid debit cards and banking services led a $7.5 million Series A funding round for Gig Wage that was joined by Continental Investors, Techstars, and Rise of the Rest. That round was later extended to include new backer Foundry Group, bringing it to around $10 million. As part of the deal, Green Dot became an infrastructure bank partner to Gig Wage.
At the end of last year, Gig Wage brought on Kristen Blum, the former head of business development at LTK, as its new head of strategic initiatives, ahead of the launch of its first consumer product, which is aimed at helping contract workers receive proper payment and access to quality banking services.
“We’re doing special initiative projects like this to further ingrain ourselves into being thought leaders and experts around what’s happening in this space, and how to best service this space and the demographics of the space,” Lewis said.
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