The environmental engineer Fernando Monte, 32, worked in the strategic planning of a major Brazilian bank when he decided to make an MBA abroad.
For this, the student gathered savings made over seven years of work, but the amount was just enough to cover 20% of the expenses he would have to travel (around $ 80,000) and basic living expenses during the two years abroad.
In order to be admitted to IESE business school in Barcelona, the student met the Prodigy Finance platform, which brings together investors in order to grant loans to foreign students who decide to pursue an MBA or graduate courses in the best global universities, according to the ranking made by the Financial Times .
Fernando decided to try placing a request for loan on the platform and eventually he managed to finance 80% of the course and part of the basic expenses he would have in Spain, to be paid in ten years with interest at around 8%. The whole process was online and took 15 days.
As the course is full-time, and the student can only work during the summer holidays, Fernando, will have six months after the end of the MBA to start paying the monthly installments. “Without the loan, I would not be here. I would have to have much more time to organize myself financially, since it would not have to work and study at the same time. ”
Founded in 2007 by students from South Africa who did an MBA in France, and UK based, the Prodigy Finance has lent over 250 million dollars to students around the world, 16% of them from Latin America. Brazil is already among the five countries with the highest volume of loans in the platform, according to the startup itself.
The investors in Prodigy are former students in courses at universities that are funded by the platform, as well as family offices, large individual investors and even global banks such as Credit Suisse.
Focused on MBAs at prestigious business schools, the Prodigy Finance is expanding its operations to also grant loans to those who want to graduate courses in areas such as law, engineering and public policy.
The startup takes advantage of a deficiency of the financial market: the difficulty in analyzing the foreign students credit history and consequently grant loans for those who live in other countries.
Before approving the credit, the financial platform analyzes about 50 data such as salary received prior to the course, in which school the student was admitted, if you have debts, country and your nationality.
However, the most important is the forecast as the student’s salary can increase after finishing the course, which will allow can repay the loan easily. This factor reduces the risk of default and, consequently, investment.
According to data published by the Financial Times in 2016, students who study MBA in Harvard earns, on average, an annual salary of $ 172,000 after three years of completion of the course. The amount is almost double the income students had before taking the course.
A differential of Prodigy Finance in relation to similar sites, usually without global action, but only in the country where the university is located, is that it is not necessary to have a guarantor for the loan.
This is possible due to the credit model created by the online platform, which ensures that the student will be able to pay once he’s out of college.
The conditions of credit are customized for each student. According to the risk profile, you can get lower interest rates (ranging from 5.5% to 8.5%) or a larger loan. The startup can finance up to 80% of the course, depending on the school and the student’s profile, and can also borrow money to pay part of the student’s expenses abroad. The loan repayment time varies between seven to ten years.
In addition to the interest on the loan, the platform charges 2.5% as an administrative fee on the value of the credit. The fee is included in the loan installments, and amortized over time.
The Prodigy Finance states that does not penalize students who, for some reason, delay payment of the loan. The startup claims to give support to students facing financial difficulties, including student placement in the labor market. But, according to the company, this is not a problem, since the installments payment rate is at 99%.
As an example of this support, while not offering a protection to foreign exchange fluctuations to foreign students taking loans, the platform released over 5000 euros credit to Brazilian students who were doing the course at IESE in Barcelona in a period in which the euro has appreciated much against the real, says Fernando Monte. “We were afraid that we could not afford to pay to keep us in the country until the end of the course.”
Despite the support offered, Fernando says he intends to pay the full amount of your loan on the platform as soon as possible to avoid being exposed to exchange variation. The student is confident that will not have problems to repay the installments, which must correspond to 10% of his monthly income after MBA. “Many companies offer vacancies in Brazil and in the rest of the world here at the university. I am confident that I will re-enter the market in a better position “