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Progreso Financiero

Progreso Financiero

Mountain View, Calif.
Founded: 2005
Employees: 200
2009 revenue: N/A
Estimated 2010 revenue: N/A

Much closer in mission to a community bank than a payday lender, this financial services company specializes in making small loans—the average is $900—to Hispanics who lack credit scores. As customers repay their loans, Progreso reports the achievement to credit bureaus, building their scores. While its loans are financed at a 36 percent APR, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer James Gutierrez, 32, says the rate is much lower than the 400 percent levied by payday shops. The son of Mexican immigrants, Gutierrez says Progreso, which has 29 locations across California and has made 50,000 loans since April 2006, is not yet profitable but expects $50 million in revenue in 2011, and $200 million in 2012. In May, the U.S. Treasury Dept. certified Progreso as a Community Development Financial Institution, which means banks that lend through the company can get CRA credit. In June, former Visa (V) chief Carl Pascarella joined Progreso's board and the company landed a $28 million Series D venture round.