Courtesy Bmore Media – When Marty Schwartz started selling used cars in 1999, he wasn’t in it to make money – at first.
He launched the Halethorpe nonprofit Vehicles For Change to help low-income families reach better-paying jobs by having reliable transportation. Strapped for cash in 2006, he launched for-profit Freedom Wheels to sell cars for $3,000 to $6,000 to young buyers who can’t afford to shop at Carmax. The for-profit business bankrolls the nonprofit, which sells about 50 cars a month for about $700 to $800 apiece, Schwartz says.
The results are profound: Families that made less than $18,000 a year typically saw a $7,000 salary increase as the cars helped them get new, better-paying work. That puts another $2.6 million into the Maryland economy, says Schwartz, who estimates a $3 million drop in welfare costs if just 50 percent of his recipient families leave the state rolls.
Schwartz says his attention to the bottom line — not his social agenda of helping the poor – is what attracted early investors.
“They didn’t care what a social entrepreneur was,” Schwartz says. “What they knew was that they didn’t want to start an organization that was going to bleed money and go out of business.”
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