News and analysis
January 05, 2016

Dominik Mjartan, Money in the Bank for All

University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Dominik Mjartan, 37
Chief Executive, Southern Bancorp Community Partners
Little Rock, Ark.

Dominik Mjartan leads a community-finance nonprofit that provides banking services, loans, and financial counseling in southern Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta, one of the poorest regions in the country. And he’s taking steps to make sure the organization is reaching the people who most need assistance.

"We’ve seen a lot of community-level progress," says Mr. Mjartan. "But then the question came, ‘Are we making sure that the right folks, those who really, truly lack economic opportunities, are also benefiting, that we’re not leaving them out?’ "

To answer that question, Southern Bancorp Community Partners recently built a sophisticated measurement system to track clients’ economic well-being, based on demographic information, income, and — depending on the program they’re part of — their progress toward improving credit scores and reaching savings goals.

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The disparities between the rich and poor were a shock to Mr. Mjartan when he arrived in the Delta as a 16-year-old exchange student from the former Czechoslovakia. He later won a scholarship to attend Southern Arkansas University, completed his M.B.A. in Britain, and worked for a tech start-up.

"I came to this country with a few dollars and have lived the American Dream," he says. "So I’m very interested in how to make that available and accessible to every child in America."

Send an email to Nicole Wallace.