HoneyBee raises millions to make financial wellness a workplace benefit

Honey bee, a startup that aims to help companies provide their employees with access to financial assistance, and today announced that it has raised $ 5.7 million in equity in a round led by FFVC.

Resolute Ventures, Afore Capital, Rebalance Capital, K50 and Financial Venture Studio were involved in the financing, as did two-time NBA all-star Baron Davis.

HoneyBee has also secured a $ 100 million credit facility from CIM, an institutional impact investment manager that provides debt for innovation that lends underserved communities.

Los Angeles-based Certified B Corp describes itself as a B2B financial technology company committed to providing employees – and their families – with free access to financial assistance in the workplace as a benefit. This support could take the form of employer-sponsored “free Rainy Day Funds” and on-demand financial therapy aimed at “creating a healthier work environment”.

Or to put it more simply, HoneyBee aims to provide HR and DEI executives who are committed to creating an equitable and inclusive culture with access to financial tools and education to improve the financial health of their employees.

CEO and co-founder Ennie Lim said she was inspired to start HoneyBee after suffering financial setbacks following her own divorce a few years ago.

“My credit was so badly compromised that I didn’t have access to affordable credit,” she recalls. “I wish I had done a lot of things differently, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I was embarrassed to ask for help.”

This experience helped Lim realize the importance of being in control of your financial life.

“It affects your self-esteem, happiness, and personal relationships, and it made me want to help others take control of theirs,” she said.

Lim has teamed up with Benny Yiu and Max Zschoch in 2017 to build HoneyBee with this goal in mind.

“We are resolving massive economic disparities and leveling the playing field in the workplace by closing the financial literacy gap and providing access to credit for the people who need it most,” said Lim.It is important to recognize that people come from different socio-economic backgrounds. The varying degrees of financial illiteracy is an issue that we can no longer ignore. “

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Photo credits: Honey bee

A study conducted by Washington University in St. Louis found that 89% of HoneyBee users are colored, women, or both. During the pandemic, when the need for its offering was even greater, HoneyBee won over 60 midsize companies as customers and is starting Fortune 500 companies later this year.

The startup’s user growth grew 225% during the pandemic, and the company says it has raised over $ 2 million to Rainy Day funds. Meanwhile, on-demand financial therapy usage increased 172% year over year.

“Amid this pandemic, when employers cut budgets, took vacations, laid off, cut hours and salaries, we saw a change in their buying habits to improve financial health,” said Lim.

Honeybee customers include Alameda County Community Food Bank, DC Central Kitchen, Kate Somerville, Community Catalyst of California, Southwest Water Company, Straus Family Creamery, Asian Art Museum, Pasadena Humane Society, and Peachtree Health.

NBA star Baron Davis grew up with his grandmother in South Central Los Angeles and says he strongly believes in the startup’s desire to provide access to affordable credit.

“Financial education is a barbed wire for people like me. It is important for companies to give their employees fair access to financial support, ”he wrote via email. “Financial access relieves stress in the workplace, especially if you work hard to make ends meet, to support your family. Easy access to money and education will lead to a happier, healthier and more productive workforce. “

FFVC partner AJ Plotkin told his company that the structure of the product “solves a serious access problem for customers who need a bridge for short-term emergencies, in a way that is not burdensome for the employee or employer”.

The company plans to use part of its new capital to grow its sales, engineering and customer success teams.

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