- WISER’s Rural Retirement Project and Benefit U were the focus of a West Virginia Public Broadcasting article about the challenges of being an independent worker in five southern WV counties.
- WISER Addresses Unmet Needs Among Independent Workers with Financial Solutions Lab.
The Benefit U Project was launched with entrepreneurs, independent workers, freelancers and small business owners in West Virginia. The goal: overcome a major barrier to achieving financial security — a lack of employment-related benefits. Independent workers were interviewed to understand their unique financial challenges. They discussed products and services that would meet their needs. A financial technology (fintech) platform (an online tool) that provided many of these resources was tested.
The workers interviewed struggle to prioritize obtaining benefit coverage. They worry that benefits might be unaffordable. At the same time, they are eager for information and tools to help them make sense of Social Security, tax reporting, etc. They want opportunities to build short and long term savings. Online, fintech platforms promise to connect independent workers with information, services and opportunities to build a stronger financial future.
Increased opportunities for fintech and nonprofit collaboration are also very promising, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which has accelerated the online delivery of all business-related services and functions.
The Benefit U Project is a collaboration between the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER®), WISER’s Rural Retirement Project, and the Appalachian Regional Commission. The project was supported by a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative.