MPOWER Financing (Ofer Abarbanel online library)

MPOWER Financing is a Public Benefit Corporation whose stated mission is to reduce the financial barriers to international education. It is based in Washington, DC, with offices in New York and Bangalore, India. It was founded by Manu Smadja and Michael Davis in 2014, both of whom attended INSEAD Paris where they met. It has been awarded multiple awards, including “Growth Company of the Year.”


MPOWER Financing offers its student loans to students who cannot typically qualify for a loan from other banks or lenders unless they have a co-signer or collateral. MPOWER Financing lends to students who are within 2 years from graduation and uses a proprietary credit model that considers borrowers’ academic success and career path.[1] Students who benefit from these services typically are international students or domestic students whose parents do not have the credit history to cosign, as well as recipients of DACA. The company lends to 190+ nationalities, including Americans. MPOWER Financing’s services are available at 350 university and college programs as of March 2018.[2] Around 90% of its borrowers are in graduate school.[3]

MPOWER Financing offers 10-year, fixed-rate loans ranging from $2,000 to $50,000[2] and charges an administrative fee of 5%, which is added to the total loan amount. Interest rates range between 7.99 and 13.99 percent[1] and can go down as low as 6.49% after interest rate discounts[4]. The funds can be used for tuition fees, housing, meals, health insurance, and other expenses certified by the university. MPOWER reports student payments to the U.S. Credit Bureau, which helps international students build a U.S. credit history.[5] MPOWER is integrated with global collection agencies so that students can pay from their phones or make payments online with their local banks.[6]

Applicants also receive support letters that can be used to apply for a US visa, career support during school, and can pay off their loan early without incurring prepayment penalties.[7] In 2019, MPOWER added personal career coaching to its list of applicant benefits through its Path2Success program.[8] The program offers resume reviews, interview training, and networking opportunities.[9] A second program,  MPOWER’s Peer-to-Peer mentoring program, matches graduate students and alumni with first-year graduate students to provide mentoring and career preparation advice.[10]


MPOWER Financing was founded by Manu Smadja and Michael Davis in 2014.[11][12] Both had faced difficulties financing their education in the US, and met in 2009 at INSEAD Paris while they were working on their MBAs. The company launched officially in May 2015 with Harvard as its first university partner.[13] In October 2016, MPOWER Financing announced that it raised $6 million through the assistance of Zephyr Peacock India.[12] By the end of 2016, the fintech company had approved loans for close to 500 students for a total amount of $10 million.[14]

In July 2017, MPOWER Financing’s services became available in all 50 states due to a partnership between the company and Bank of Lake Mills.[15] In August 2017, MPOWER Financing announced a $100 million debt round in order to offer more student loans.[15] On February 16, 2017, it was reported that MPOWER Financing had received more than $150 million in loan applications.[16] In the Summer of 2017, MPOWER Financing began working with credit reporting agency Nova Credit to simplify the application and underwriting process for international applicants.[17]

In 2018, MPOWER launched its Canadian international student loan program at 12 universities across Ontario and British Columbia.[18] That same year, MPOWER added a scholarship program, the MPOWER Global Citizenship Scholarship.  Four awards are given per year, each one amounting to $5,000.[19]

As of April 2019, it was reported that MPOWER Financing had received over $1 billion in loan applications.[20]

MPOWER belongs to 1776, a D.C. organization working to solve local and global issues.[21] MPOWER works to connect investors with underserved student borrowers in order to provide loans for tuition or living expenses; the company was able to give its first loan of $10,000 in November 2014.[21]


From 2015 to 2017, MPOWER Financing revenues increased by 3000%.[22] In 2015, the company was awarded 1st placed in Village Capital’s edtech competition.[23] In February 2017, MPOWER Financing was an honorable mention in the list of 20 Washington D.C. tech companies that people should watch.[24] In December 2017, MPOWER Financing was awarded Growth Tech Company of the Year.[25]

It was featured as one of the finalists in the 2018 Tech Madness D.C. Bracket.[26] In 2018, MPOWER Financing was named one of the best places to work in the financial technology industry by American Banker.[27] Writer Rob Garver noted that the recipients of the award were noted for their philanthropic efforts, citing MPOWER Financing employees’ partnership with the “Junior Achievement” program.[28] Lana Bronipolsky, MPOWER Financing’s VP of Finance, was one of the finalists for the Small Business/Entrepreneurs category at the 19th Annual Women in Technology Leadership Awards.[29]

Impact Alpha writer Dennis Price commented that Davis and Smadja were among the “new builders” of entrepreneurship.[30] A writer for Value Walk listed MPOWER Financing among a list of “benefit corporations.”[31] In 2019, NerdWallet named MPOWER Financing’s loan product the Top International Student Loan for 2019. Since its inception, MPOWER Financing has processed around $1B in loan applications and has provided financing to students from over 200 countries.[20] Current investors include Zephyr, Village Capital, GS2, Fresco Capital, 1776, Ruppert International, University Ventures, Dreamit, Panther Angels, Baltimore Angels, Chilango Ventures and Amlaur. MPOWER Financing was featured alongside 16 other startups as part of the accelerator company DreamIt.[32]

Social impact

MPOWER Financing is a B Corporation (social benefit corporation).[33] In October 2018, the company hosted “Lenses on Social Impact,” a panel discussion and networking breakfast for social impact investors and companies, at the Harvard Club in New York City. Panelists included Thomas C. Barry, president and CEO, Zephyr Management; Chris Cozzone, senior vice president, Bain Capital Double Impact; Tahira Dosani, managing director, Accion Venture Lab; Rachna Saxena, associate partner, Dalberg Global Development; and Kapil Sharma, vice president for government and public affairs, North America at Wipro.[34]

In November 2018, the company announced that it had hired its first Director of Social Impact, Maureen Klovers.[35] Since then, the company has increased the size of its signature scholarship program, the Global Citizen Scholarship Program and launched four new scholarship programs: the MPOWER Women in STEM Scholarship Program[36], the MPOWER Nursing Scholarship Program[37] and–in partnership with La Unidad Latina Foundation–the La Unidad Latina/MPOWERing DACA Students Scholarship Program and La Unidad Latina/ MPOWERing Estudiantes Latinoamericanos Scholarship Program.[38] recognized the La Unidad Latina/MPOWERing DACA Students as one of the 7 best scholarships for Latino students.[39] From an internally-focused social impact perspective, MPOWER is the rare fintech company that has nearly achieved gender parity. Two of its four external board members are women, and four of its nine senior-level employees (director level or higher) are women.[40]


  1. ^ a b Chappellet-Lanier, Tajha (November 9, 2015). “MPOWER Financing shares its big dreams for shaking up educational lending”. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Serio, Anna (2018-09-27). “Mpower Financing student loans review April 2019|”. finder US. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  3. ^ Gensler, Lauren. “No Cosigner, No Problem: Meet The Companies Helping International Students Finance Their U.S. Degrees”. Forbes. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  4. ^ “Repayment Examples”. MPOWER Financing. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  5. ^ Dhanjal, Swaraj Singh (2017-01-16). “Education finance firm MPower to raise $100 million in debt to grow loan book”. Live Mint. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  6. ^ Dhanjal, Swaraj Singh (2017-01-16). “Education finance firm MPower to raise $100 million in debt to grow loan book”. Live Mint. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  7. ^ Strohm, Mitch (February 24, 2016). “Startup offers personal loans to students”. Bank Rate. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  8. ^ “Loans for International Students”. eduPASS. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  9. ^ “400 Bad Request”. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  10. ^ “Mpower Financing Announces Three New Programs | TheHigherEducationReview”. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  11. ^ Singh Dhanjal, Swaraj (January 16, 2017). “Education finance firm MPower to raise $100 million in debt to grow loan book”. Livemint. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Arora, Varun (October 26, 2016). “Fintech startup MPOWER Financing raises $ mn”. TechCircle. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  13. ^ Gensler, Lauren. “No Cosigner, No Problem: Meet The Companies Helping International Students Finance Their U.S. Degrees”. Forbes. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  14. ^ Dhanjal, Swaraj Singh (2017-01-16). “Education finance firm MPower to raise $100 million in debt to grow loan book”. LiveMint. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  15. ^ a b Babcock, Stephen (August 18, 2017). “MPower Financing launched a $100M debt round to fund more student loans”. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  16. ^ Tannahill, Jason (February 16, 2017). “PR News From Cone Communications, FleishmanHillard, Timberland, and Feintuch Communications”. Everything-PR. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  17. ^ Schiller, Ben (October 20, 2017). “This Alternative Credit Agency Lets Immigrants Bring Their Credit With Them”. Fast Company. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  18. ^ “MPOWER Financing Expands Geographic Coverage to Canada”. Feintuch Communications Company. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  19. ^ “US: This student loan company offers scholarships to international students too”. Study International. 2019-01-03. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  20. ^ a b “Student Loan Provider MPOWER Financing Lands 110M Raise”. American Inno.
  21. ^ a b Eugenios, Jillian (2014-10-07). “How startups are tackling D.C.’s poverty problem”. CNNMoney. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  22. ^ Garver, Rob (March 5, 2018). “How fintech firms get peak performance from employees”. American Banker. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  23. ^ “Dreamit Accelerator Welcomes New Class of Edtech Startups – EdSurge News”. EdSurge. 2016-09-13. Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  24. ^ Chappellet-Lanier, Tajha; Seward, Zack (February 9, 2017). “These are the 20 #dctech startups worth watching this year: realLIST 2017”. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  25. ^ Babcock, Stephen (December 7, 2017). “Here are the winners of the 2017 DC Awards”. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  26. ^ Sabin, Sam (February 12, 2018). “Introducing The 2018 Tech Madness D.C. Bracket Finalists”. DC Inno. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  27. ^ “Best Fintechs to Work For”. American Banker. Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  28. ^ Garver, Rob (March 7, 2018). “Best Fintechs to Work For”. American Banker. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  29. ^ Shaskan, Jennifer (February 18, 2018). “Finalists Unveiled for 19th Annual Women in Technology Leadership Awards”. Washington Exec. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  30. ^ Price, Dennis (January 25, 2018). “The New Revivalists: The people, places and policies reviving entrepreneurship — and the American Dream”. Impact Alpha. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  31. ^ “Every Company Must Not Only Deliver Financial Performance”. Value Walk. January 30, 2018. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  32. ^ “Dreamit Accelerator Welcomes New Class of Edtech Startups – EdSurge News”. EdSurge. 2016-09-13. Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  33. ^ “MPOWER Financing Marks International Day of Women and Girls in Science”. Retrieved 2019-05-15.
  34. ^ “MPOWER Financing International Students at NYC”. Fintec Buzz.
  35. ^ “MPOWER Financing Hires Maureen Klovers as First Director of Social Impact”. Citybizlist. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  36. ^ DelhiFebruary 11, India Today Web Desk New; February 11, 2019UPDATED:; Ist, 2019 18:52. “New scholarship programme for girls to mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science”. India Today. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  37. ^ “10 Best Scholarships for International Students at Maryland 2019”. Current School News. 2019-03-21. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  38. ^ Admin. “MPOWER And LULF Launch Scholarships For DACA And Latin American Students | Hispanic PR Wire”. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  39. ^ “7 College Scholarships Latinos Should Apply to Right Now”. Remezcla. 2019-01-28. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  40. ^ “MPOWER Financing”. Crunchbase. Retrieved 2019-05-29.


Ofer Abarbanel

Ofer Abarbanel online library