Wole Coaxum (STERN ’96)
MBA in Finance
Banking on People of Color
By David Hollander
Portrait by Robert Nethery
Although he comes from a long line of activists, Wole Coaxum’s career in finance didn’t intersect with the work of upending inequity. But in 2014, when unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown was shot fatally by police in Ferguson, Missouri, “I knew I had to do something,” he says.
A graduate of the Stern School of Business, Coaxum was thriving professionally working on Wall Street. “I wanted to reimagine change through my unique perspective,” he says. He realized that the deep social justice roots of the Black community lacked an economic component. He decided he wanted to build a scaffolding for communities of color to participate in a system that rewards the already-wealthy.
In 2015, he risked his career to found Mobility Capital Finance (MoCaFi), a financial technology company whose mobile platform provides access to banking services, credit-building tools, and aid programs for tens of millions of Americans locked out of traditional banking institutions.
Launching MoCaFi was anything but easy. “Investors tend to pattern match,” Coaxum says, “and there was no preexisting model here.” But his gambit—aided by the networks he began developing at NYU—has paid major dividends. MoCaFi has attracted more than 70,000 users and has been pivotal in distributing more than $50 million in emergency pandemic relief to underserved communities. MoCaFi and its CEO founder have been showcased in such major outlets as Barron’s, Bloomberg.com, CNBC, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., and the New York Times. “The goal,” Coaxum says, “is to build something that will outlast me.”