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Maria Victoria Arenas Maria Victoria Arenas Sep 17, 2021 3 min read

Kiwi Crédito extends a hand to underbanked through small loans

Mariano Sanz, founder of Kiwi Crédito.

Kiwi Crédito, a mobile application with the mission of helping Hispanic Americans and minorities in the US mainland and Puerto Rico to establish credit, is gaining momentum by providing affordable loans quickly.

Thanks to technological advances, Mariano Sanz and his executive partner were able to create an initiative to offer loans of up to $500 to people who otherwise have no access to options from traditional financial institutions.

“The client goes to our application, and we issue them a loan without a credit report. What we do is that we analyze alternative data, such as banking transactions, electricity bills, telephone bills, internet bills and that it reflects that they pay on time,” said Sanz, who also explained that in the United States there are about 67 million people who are considered underbanked, or those who do not have access to conventional financial products and services.

Kiwi Crédito provides loans to the client that can be an alternative to cash advances, secured credit cards, and other forms of short-term credit.

Kiwi Crédito’s mission statement is “to promote financial inclusion by providing access to affordable capital, help build credit and improve the financial literacy of our users. As users repay our loans on time and build creditworthiness with us, we provide for larger loans, longer repayment terms, and at lower interest rates.”

Sanz said the capital for this initiative came from private investors and strategic investors in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

“We have raised about $750,000 for this project,” said Sanz, who also obtained help from the government of Puerto Rico through a grant, which helped obtain the electronic equipment to create Kiwi Crédito.

Meanwhile, Kiwi Crédito was selected among 10 companies to participate in the Bravo Foundation’s accelerator program, based in Mayagüez, which provides mentoring and individualized help from experts.

The company, born in January 2021 — in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — has learned to navigate the circumstances, which Sanz said have not been entirely negative.

“We basically started in January of this year, so all we know is the pandemic environment,” said Sanz.

However, Sanz explained that they faced a barrier with the Hispanic clientele since the Kiwi Crédito client would have to have a mobile application to request a loan.

“With the course of the pandemic, we have also seen a higher receptivity since people are used to all digital processes, so the pandemic in that sense has helped us,” said Sanz.

Sanz and his executive partner were born and raised in the Dominican Republic and have always been surrounded by an entrepreneurial environment.

Their goal was to have their own business one day as that is how they grew up. After several years, Sanz and his executive partner decided to move to the United States to go to college.

“It was very difficult for us to create credit in the United States and access the financial system, since we were immigrants,” said Sanz, who worked on Wall Street for five years.

The mentality of having their own business was always present.

“We both sat down one day to look at business opportunities and realized that proportionally, minorities in the United States are the most underbanked,” explained Sanz.

Currently, Kiwi Crédito has more than 1,500 clients in Puerto Rico and in the US mainland, the application has been downloaded by more than 60,000 people.

“I think that to start a good business you have to take one or two hours every day, plan the business, study it for a month or two and then you have to jump in and take into account that there are going to be many ups and downs,” the entrepreneur said.

“It takes a lot of patience, and it takes persistence and hard work to achieve it. There are many resources today and I think it is the perfect time to start a business,” he said.

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