The co-founder of Flourish Fi in Sonoma County has a passion for helping underserved people sort out their finances

An app with a Wheel of Fortune component may be fun, but it serves a higher purpose, and it teaches underserved communities about money management, according to its creators.

Pedro Moura and Jessica Eting are co-founders of Flourish Fi, maker of a proprietary platform licensed to banks, who in turn offer the app to customers.

The couple’s mission is based on helping underserved communities like the ones they come from.

Flourish Fi’s app aims to encourage financial responsibility through incentives, such as the spin of the wheel of fortune that rewards customers with a few dollars when they repay a loan on time. Quiz tests and true or false games help users understand the value of saving.

And it will give you a boost when a payment is due to avoid late fees.

Flourish Fi’s app was also designed to help banks better understand their customers, their behavior and their interactions, Moura said.

find their way

Flourish Fi’s roots go back to when the couple met in 2015 while studying at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. They quickly discovered that they came from similar backgrounds: low-income, hard-working families who were scrambling to support themselves and save so the kids could go to college.

Moura was a teenager when he immigrated from Brazil with his family. He saw his mother working hard cleaning houses and trying to save enough money to send her two boys to college. He, in turn, helped in any way he could, delivering newspapers and working at Amici’s Pizza in downtown San Rafael.

“I was undocumented for a long time and was able to get residency in 2010, and once I did, the whole world opened up for me,” Moura said. “So I said, ‘Where can I make a lot of money and help my family?’

He chose the financial services sector.

“I worked at Morgan Stanley in wealth management,” he said. “It wasn’t for me. There weren’t a lot of people who looked like me and it wasn’t very rewarding.

Then he joined Chase, working in one of the bank’s branches and speaking Spanish or Portuguese to Latinx customers to help them open accounts.

“But once they applied for credit, they were turned down. And once they tried to invest, they didn’t have the minimum (amount of money),” he said. “The products were not designed for ordinary people.”

Eting, chief operating officer of Flourish Fi, was born in Modesto to immigrant parents, her father from the Philippines and her mother a third-generation Mexican American. Money was tight, but when Eting’s father died after a long coma when she was a teenager, it meant starting over, she said.

“After my dad got sick, it all landed on my mom to be able to finish raising my brother and me on my own,” she said. “There was a time when we were back on Section 8, and we had to use food stamps again. These were all things my mom had come from and really hoped to get away from. Section 8 is a federally funded program for low income housing.

Eting, a self-proclaimed overachiever, decided early on that education would be the key to her future.

“It was never about, ‘Are you going to college?'” the Sacramento resident said. “It was, ‘Which college are you going to?

It needs patience

To date, the couple have raised about $2 million for their business, mostly in venture capital, and they continue to raise funds, said CEO Moura, a resident of Petaluma. They also received a $150,000 grant from Mastercard.

“The goal over the next year and a half is to reach $2 million in revenue,” Moura said, adding that the hope is that Flourish Fi’s current investment round will allow the company to grow. reach the break-even point.

Moura said the goal is to be able to scale impact and attract investors to hopefully build a global organization.

“It’s just a different type of business than building a restaurant or a family store, where you have to be profitable from day one,” he said.

The couple, who each have their own family, built their customer base by “co-creating” their innovative technology platform with financial institutions, Moura said, including their network of former employers and some investors.

“Jessica and I were starting to gain traction for the results of what we were doing, so early on we were talking to more forward-thinking institutions that were willing to work with startups,” he said.

“We are now an official partner of Mastercard,” Moura said, adding that this has created more exposure for Flourish Fi. The company currently licenses its technology platform to seven financial institutions, primarily in Brazil, Bolivia and, soon, Ecuador and Costa Rica. Although they have a few US customers, the company’s main focus is on Latin America, where Moura sees the greatest need.

Flourish Fi has a team of 20 people, more than half of whom work in engineering and product design. The business operates remotely.

“We impact people’s lives, but we also encourage financial institutions to offer more responsible products instead of just charging for overdrafts,” he said. “Money is in the fabric of our society and products were not designed historically for ordinary people and beginners.”

Cheryl Sarfaty covers tourism, hospitality, healthcare and employment. She previously worked for a Gannett daily in New Jersey and for NJBIZ, the state’s business newspaper. Cheryl has freelanced for business journals in Sacramento, Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Lehigh Valley, PA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University, Northridge. Reach her at [email protected] or 707-521-4259.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that the company has a team of 20 people, consisting of both employees and contractors; and that Eting’s father died after being in a long coma.

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