Meet Our Founders, Pedro & Jessica
Why they embarked on the journey to encourage individuals to establish and practice good financial habits
“I was born in Northeast Brazil, and I immigrated to Northern CA with my mother when I was a teenager. To make ends meet, I did all sorts of jobs while still in high school including delivering newspaper and cleaning houses.
I learned early on to be resilient and manage my hard earned money. As a first generation financial citizen, it was tough navigating the system without much guidance. This often felt like a tall barrier to climb in other to achieve a better future.
Curious about money and social inequalities, I studied economics with a focus on development in college. Understanding the crucial role of money in our society, I started my career in traditional financial services interning at Morgan Stanley then working at Chase. I quickly realized that the products there weren’t quite serving the needs of everyday Americans.
Driven by the desire to help those in my community achieve financial security, I transitioned to Oportun, a responsible lender that provides credit-building loans. It was an amazing experience where we helped over a million Americans access affordable loans, but it was clear to me that people need financial solutions beyond access credit.
Financial vulnerability in America is a real problem. With over 138 million people struggling financially and less than half of adults with less than $400 saved, a simple visit to the emergency room or a broken car transmission forces individuals to borrow money. Intrigued by this problem, Jessica and I teamed to help individuals who are starting their financial lives be better prepared.”
“My journey starts with my parents’ journey. My father immigrated to the US from the Philippines at 18 to attend community college. There he met my mother, a third generation Mexican American, and they fell in love after meeting in the school library, or “lovebrary” as my dad liked to call it. Both came from low income families and after having an earlier than planned family, they struggled to provide the life they wanted for their kids. As things began to turn around, my father unexpectedly fell ill. I watched my mom hustle to financially support the family on her own, working hard to stay above the need for the same government assistance programs she grew up on. I learned how to make my “dollar stretch,” but I learned very little about how to build the financial habits that could lead to future financial security.
When I went off to college, all I really knew was that I needed to get a degree so I could get a good paying job. Eventually I found real passion through my second major in Ethnic Studies, learning about my own experiences and those of my communities, including the structures that exist that create barriers to reaching the “American Dream.” This helped me uncover a personal drive to create systems that empower individuals in pursuit of improving their lives, especially for those facing the same struggles that my family and my community have faced.
After college I wanted my career to marry with a passion to break down the societal barriers that exist for underserved and underrepresented groups. I felt fortunate to be able to explore this mission for over a decade with work that included supporting community organizations in establishing social enterprises, leveraging technology to create opportunities for communities of color, and working in grant operations with a mission to increase the number of underrepresented students to attain bachelor’s degrees. At every step of the way I was able to learn more about the struggles that exist within different community groups and the various levers that can be pulled to make individual and systemic level changes.
In the pursuit to understand other avenues of community empowerment, I took my passion to the MBA program at Berkeley Haas in order to explore ways to make impact through socially conscious business. While there I became more aware of the depth of financial instability and vulnerability that exists in the US and started on the journey with Pedro to find ways to empower people to be financially healthy.”
From classmates with a shared mission to Flourish co-founders
We had very different career paths coming into business school, but it was clear that we shared a strong passion for empowering individuals with the tools needed to achieve their dreams. More specifically, we wanted to play an important role in the communities we came from. Right out of the gate, Jessica and I started collaborating as board members of the Net Impact club, then through a class project we started digging deeper into the lack of savings among young adults and immigrant communities. We heard over and over from these individuals, how engaging with one’s personal finances was quite stressful and it often felt like a chore.
The United States has an incredible diversity story, filled with hard-working individuals, and financial solutions and brands available today struggle to serve diverse communities at scale.
We launched Flourish to empower individuals to build savings and achieve financial security by making it feel like play. We all enjoy being rewarded, so why can’t the act of saving and engaging with your finances put a smile on your face?
Flourish exists to help people achieve their goals and dreams, without personal finance being a barrier. We are starting by making short-term savings attainable and fun for first generation financial citizens in the United States, and we believe that we will shape the way people interact with their finances around the world.
We’ve been working hard to make Flourish simple, safe, fun and rewarding and invite you to join us on this incredible journey!
Welcome to our community where we will Flourish together.
Pedro and Jessica
Founders of Flourish
If you’d like to be part of our first users and participate in shaping our product, sign up here to join the waitlist!