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This week Bloomberg ran an article about Refinancia, an Endeavor Colombia company that takes an unusual approach to debt collection. Founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur Kenneth Mendiwelson in 2005, the company sells custom financial products that facilitate repayments and ensure long-term customer relations.
“We provide a dignified product to someone who has been mistreated by the financial sector,” explains Kenneth in the piece. “Someone who falls into default is not a bad person.”
A Harvard Business School graduate and former McKinsey consultant who started Refinancia with a $4 million loan from friends and family, Kenneth is an ambitious but compassionate entrepreneur who seeks to counter the perception of debt-collectors banging on doors. His success is evident in his client base of more than 250,000 individuals and expansion of services into Peru and the Mexico.
Refinancia’s dollar figures are also impressive: The 510-employee company manages a total of 800,000 loans, with a face value of nearly $2 billion, from about 15 banks in Latin America. Kenneth expects revenues of $12 million this year and $21 million in 2012. He estimates that by 2015, 60 percent of revenue will come from debtors outside Colombia.
Kenneth also has a larger vision for his services. He hopes that Refinancia can cash in on goodwill and turn one-time defaulters into borrowers. His argument is that even a person who pays back a defaulted loan will find it difficult to escape a bad credit history when seeking to borrow again: “No one is going to give him new credit, but I can because Refinancia knows exactly how he thinks and how he has behaved in the past with the refinancing product we provided to him.”
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