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James Gutierrez grew up in a family that emigrated from Mexico. He watched as his parents, extended family, and immigrant community struggled to assimilate to their new home country. Part of the problem was they had financial struggles that came from not having equal access to credit. This situation was common among immigrants to the United States who could not rely on the financial history they had created in their home country to qualify for credit here.

Gutierrez Launches Two Fintech Companies for Underserved Communities

The situations he witnessed growing up created a passion in James Gutierrez to make economic equality a reality. Shortly after graduating from Stanford University, Gutierrez created his first financial technology company originally called Progreso Financier that later became Opportun.

Besides his experiences in childhood, Gutierrez created the company as a response to payday loan companies located primarily in minority and low-income communities. However, Gutierrez explains that payday loan companies are not the only unethical lenders. Some finance companies charge nearly as much interest as payday lenders, which is often more than 100 percent of the original loan.

Executives at Aura, the second fintech company launched by James Gutierrez, estimate that the company has provided 650,000 loans to customers in Texas, Arizona, and California. The loans totaled more than $800 million dollars. Compared to unscrupulous lenders that charge applicants with poor credit or no credit exorbitant interest rates, Aura has saved its customers more than $500 million dollars in finance fees in just a few years.

James Gutierrez Considering the Launch of a New Company

Gutierrez recently announced that he is working on a mobile application that matches people in Latino and other underserved communities with financial companies willing to help them. The new platform relies on alternative risk scoring and payment technology to provide people living in these communities with greater financial opportunities. James Gutierrez also provides materials on the mobile platform that give people the chance to improve their financial literacy.

Dedicated to Service in His Professional and Personal Pursuits

Gutierrez’s passion for financial equality and serving others does not end when he leaves work at the end of the day. He graduated from a non-profit called Seizing Every Opportunity (SEO) that offers support and programs for traditionally underserved populations. James Gutierrez takes any opportunity he can to help kids and students of color, especially those who are the first in their family to enroll in college. He proudly states that going through the SEO program changed his life for the better.

James Gutierrez also serves in a Vice-Chair position for the Board of Silicon Valley Leadership Group. This group represents 380 technology organizations. Along with his fellow board members, Gutierrez advocates for policy issues, transportation choices, and better housing options on behalf of the employees working for one of the 380 employer companies. He puts his full support behind any cause that can help people improve their quality of life.

As Gutierrez reflects on his past and the dreams he had in college, he feels grateful to be in the position he is in today to help so many people improve their financial situation.

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