Partner Spotlight: Honeybee

HoneyBee is a social impact company and a Certified B Corporation®. We’re creators and providers of the world’s first PTO Loan℠, empowering millions of working Americans to use their accrued PTO and vacation days to source loans at zero interest, regardless of their credit history. Read more in this Partner Spotlight with President Ennie Lim.

What was the inspiration for starting HoneyBee?
HoneyBee was the result of my own financial struggle. When I first moved to the US almost a decade ago, accessing any type of financing without personal credit was challenging. I had a job but building credit and a credit score was an uphill battle. I was credit invisible, unable to get approved for a credit card or a loan. With little choice, I resorted to predatory lenders that charged up to 2000% in interest.
A few years later and recently divorced, I remained financially disadvantaged by my inability to access low-cost financing — despite the fact that I was working and had income. It occurred to me that this inability to access low-cost financing was a significant challenge for a lot of people who were nevertheless employed and had income. It was a Catch 22 situation, you need credit to get good financing but you had to have had a loan or a credit card to start building credit. But what if we allowed working folks to tap the value of their PTO — no credit needed but paying back such a loan on time would build credit.
I started reaching out to employees from different industries such as lodging, agribusiness, non-profit, manufacturing, healthcare, construction and employees opened up to me about their financial struggles. I discovered the working underbanked reinforcing my belief that I had a product that will work for them. My business partners were determined to build a solution to help protect working Americans from predatory lenders and provide the support they needed for a rainy day.
HoneyBee’s greatest strength is our team’s diverse background in consumer lending, fintech, tech and non-profit, we all have one common goal – we are all passionate advocates for change.

Why was San Francisco the ideal location for HoneyBee?
San Francisco is a city is like no other, a hub for innovation and entrepreneurialism. This city nurtures collaboration and fosters strong relationships so it was a natural decision to base our headquarters in San Francisco. Furthermore, helping employees locally was really important for us — a recent survey showed that San Francisco workers leave millions of unused vacation hours on the table! Focusing on local employees in San Francisco allowed us to address a need and grow the business quickly.

Photo by Duy Ho

What are some of the services that HoneyBee offers?
HoneyBee PTO Loan℠ is available at no cost to participating employers. All full-time employees can access up to $2,500 with no interest, regardless of their credit for a flat 5% fee. In addition, we help employees build their credit score. Six out of every 10 Americans have less than $500 in savings for an emergency expense and HoneyBee provides a smarter alternative to credit card advances, 401K/403B loan, and payday lenders.

What makes HoneyBee unique from other lending service providers?
HoneyBee is the first ever PTO Loan℠, allowing all employees with paid time off or vacation days to borrow up to $2,500 interest free and regardless of their credit.

How does being a member of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce benefit HoneyBee?
We collaborate with local employers, communities and unions so it was important for us to be part of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce because it keeps us updated with changing issues and trends within our local community.