As many Canadians continue to grapple with the financial hit caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, one woman is hoping the fintech startup she helped co-found will be able to help.
Eva Wong is the chief operating officer and co-founder of Borrowell, a Toronto-based financial services and technology company that provides online tools to help Canadians improve their credit. The company was founded in 2014, and has now employs 130 people and serves more than 1.5 million customers.
Many of those customers found themselves in a more precarious financial situation when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. According to a Borrowell survey conducted in 2020, nearly 30 per cent of respondents reported being "extremely stressed" over their financial situation due to the pandemic. Nearly three in four reported feeling stressed about their finances, with paying for basic necessities such as groceries and rent cited as the biggest worry.
"There's definitely been a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety around being able to manage your finances through this really uncertain time," Wong said in an interview.
Borrowell is one of the rare examples of a service company expanding in the pandemic. The company closed a deal in December to acquire Refresh Financial, another fintech company that offered loans to help customers build credit, which they expect to double Borrowell's revenue.
Wong is not a typical tech founder. She began her career working as a management consultant and joined the startup with no experience working in the financial services or technology sectors. She says the company's growth is not something she imagined when she first joined the startup, shortly after being on maternity leave with her second child.
"You start this wanting to be ambitious and wanting to have impact. So it's definitely exciting to see it come to fruition," she said.
"We don't think we're anywhere close to the end of the journey. We still have lots more ambitions in terms of products that we want to launch, the number of people we want to be able to serve and how big we can grow the business."
For aspiring entrepreneurs considering switching careers or launching their own business, Wong's top advice is to "do something that scares you a little bit and pushes you a little bit beyond what you think you can do."
"I think it does give you the confidence to to be able to say yes, I can figure this out," she said.
Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.