Prodigy Finance, the UK-based pioneer in cross-border finance founded by a South African entrepreneur, on Monday announced it has raised R14.39 billion in the last twelve months in available debt financing.
The financing, which includes a number of leading financial institutions, will allow the company to expand its innovative global credit model, which supports high potential students from across 150 countries.
Prodigy Finance is a diamond member of AlphaCode, a club for FinTech entrepreneurs.
The company, which has 140 staff across offices in London, Cape Town, and New York, offers loans to postgraduate students accepted into business, engineering, law, and public policy degrees at the world’s top universities, such as Harvard, Oxford, INSEAD and the University of Cape Town.
To date, Prodigy Finance has helped over 11,200 students, from 132 countries borrow more than R7.74 billion; the majority (89%) of which had no alternative access to funds.
Prodigy Finance was started by three INSEAD MBA graduates who experienced the difficulties of financing an international degree first-hand.
“The world is increasingly global and connected, yet the banking industry has not kept pace. Traditional lenders are bound by local legal constraints, local data, as well as local repayments and collections, which ties an applicant’s credit profile to their location. For example, if you’re born and live in the U.S. you will have greater choice and access to financial services and credit,” said founder and CEO of Prodigy Finance, Cameron Stevens.
“However, if you’re born in Ghana and want to study abroad, you’re more likely to be unbanked. We’ve worked hard over the years to change this. Our global credit model has allowed us to help international students, including South Africans, with limited or no funding options to gain access to life-changing opportunities and become the next generation of leaders around the world.”
The financing primarily consists of R12.95 billion in institutional debt facilities from American, European and Asian lenders including Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, M&G Investments and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.
Other investors include schools, family offices and high-net-worth individuals participating in Prodigy Finance’s international bond programme distributed by Credit Suisse.
Debt financing enables scale and expansion
Prodigy Finance provides education loans to international students attending top universities around the world. Funding options are particularly limited for these students, even more so for those who live in emerging markets like South Africa.
The company’s unique global credit model is built to assess applicant loan affordability on numerous variables, including projected earnings and university acceptance, among others, rather than historical credit. Technology facilitates worldwide processing and securing online applications.
The company began by funding programmes at the top 100 business schools around the world, and over the years, expanded to other countries as well as disciplines including engineering, public policy, law, and health sciences.
Engineering has been identified as a key growth sector, especially among students from Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRICs), who are trending towards studying abroad and gaining international exposure.
Today’s financing allows the company to increase its offering, particularly in the field of engineering and at U.S. universities and colleges, including those ranked by the U.S. News & World Report.
The Prodigy Finance platform now supports 245 specific engineering schools and 2,222 courses, including electrical and computer engineering, data analytics, information systems, and industrial, chemical and nuclear engineering, among others; with the option of 10, 15 or 20-year loans terms and without the need for collateral, co-signer or guarantor.
Financing also enables Prodigy Finance to offer a refinance product to international graduates from U.S. schools looking to reduce their financial costs.
These alumni previously had limited options available to them, and Prodigy Finance’s new refinance product provides them with the opportunity to reduce their interest rate, consolidate multiple student loans, release their co-signer and choose from flexible loan terms.
The option to refinance is available to eligible international graduates who reside in the U.S. or U.K.
Prodigy Finance’s unique global credit model assesses applicants based on projected earnings rather than historical credit, allowing the company to provide funding to students without collateral, a cosigner or guarantor.