James Gutierrez, Progreso Financiero’s founder and former Chairman and CEO, said Monday he’s leaving the company to pursue new start-up opportunities in financial technology and social entrepreneurship. Progreso Financiero, which is dedicated to the economic advancement of lower-income Hispanic families, has received investments from Greylock Partners, Charles River Partners, Madrone Capital Partners, FG Capital and the Catalyst Fund of CFSI.
James Gutierrez, Founder and former Chairman and CEO of Progreso Financiero, a financial institution dedicated to the economic advancement of lower-income Hispanic families, announced he was leaving the company to pursue new start-up opportunities in financial technology and social entrepreneurship.
Mr. Gutierrez said, “I founded Progreso Financiero to increase access to capital for hard-working, Latino families and prove that, while many lack formal collateral, they are indeed credit-worthy. Together with a talented and dedicated team, we’ve built an amazing, purposeful company and delivered financial empowerment to lower-income Latinos across the US. Helping the company grow and change lives as its CEO and Founder for seven years was an incredibly rewarding experience and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. I am now moving on to start my next chapter in financial services and payments and am confident that Progreso is well positioned for many years of continued success.”
Since founding Progreso in 2005, Gutierrez oversaw the company’s growth while it made more than 250,000 loans, expanded to 83 locations across California and Texas, raised more than $240 million in debt and equity capital, grew to 600 employees, and extended $260 million in capital to underserved Hispanic families.
“James as founder of Progreso made a lasting and profound impact on the Latino community in the United States, helping thousands of families establish credit and move into the financial mainstream,” said, former California Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez. “James provided the founding vision for Progreso and developed an unrivaled model of responsible and innovative community lending for a fast growing, yet often ignored Latino population. As one of only a handful of Latino CEOs in Silicon Valley, James is a community role model and his political prowess on both the Federal and State levels truly leveled the playing field for equal access and opportunity at critical regulatory junctures. With his innovative drive and passion for helping his Latino community, I am reassured his work on behalf of lower-income families will continue on many groundbreaking undertakings yet to come.”
Clay Wilkes, CEO of Galileo, a leading payments processor, added: “James is a trailblazer in the credit and payments industry. He nearly reinvented unsecured lending and his leadership put Progreso on the map. Executing on James’ vision, the company has achieved tremendous traction and success in lending to customers with thin or no credit files, deploying its sophisticated credit risk algorithms, and growing an award winning Hispanic prepaid debit card business. He was able to do this keeping the customer perspective foremost and in a very difficult regulatory climate. Just as important, James has recruited a strong executive team, which will enable Progreso to continue its growth and serve the Hispanic community on a national basis. We are eager to see what James will do next and hope to work with him on his next venture.”
“Replicating the success of Progreso from a social impact and entrepreneurial perspective won’t be easy but that’s what I want to do. Fortunately I’ve learned many lessons and am excited about applying them to new social ventures in the credit and payments industry,” Gutierrez said.
About James Gutierrez
James is a leading social entrepreneur, investor and innovator in financial services serving the unbanked and lower-income. In 2005, James founded Progreso Financiero to bring micro-lending to the US Hispanic community and help thousands of families build credit and achieve their economic dreams. Since 2006, Progreso has made over 250,000 loans, grown to 600 employees and 83 store locations in California and Texas, been certified by US Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), and secured over $240 million in venture capital and debt funding. As a member of the Federal Reserve Board’s Consumer Advisory Council, James has helped pioneer new policies on financial empowerment for America’s lower-income. In 2010, he helped draft and pass a new law (SB 1146) designed to increase the availability of safe and affordable small dollar loans in California. James serves on the boards of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG), the Association for Enterprise Opporunity, the Latino Community Foundation (LCF), and Core Innovation Capital. In 2010, Business Week selected James as one of America’s most promising social entrepreneurs. He also received the Rising Star Award from the Robert Toigo Foundation and was selected among 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America by Hispanic Business Magazine. James received his MBA from Stanford and a B.A. in Economics from Yale University. James is a member of YPO’s Golden Gate Chapter and he and his wife, Katja Bjorner, live in San Francisco.