Michael Wend­land


BC Business Magazine - - To Do - –D.H.

M ichael Wend­land learned first­hand the value of a good credit score when he was de­nied a mort­gage in 2010. His credit re­port re­vealed he had a small out­stand­ing debt–the an­nual fee for a credit card he stopped us­ing and thought was de­ac­ti­vated. “I was sur­prised,” Wend­land says. “It was ex­tra hum­bling for me be­cause at the time I was a mort­gage bro­ker.” The ironic turn pro­pelled him to start a busi­ness to help oth­ers get their credit on track.

Wend­land bor­rowed an idea from U.S. credit unions that had yet to make a mark in Canada: pro­vid­ing credit-builder loans to peo­ple with bad credit. His com­pany, Kelowna-based Re­fresh Fi­nan­cial, ex­tends credit when no­body else will. Clients don't re­ceive the money they're os­ten­si­bly bor­row­ing up front, though. In­stead, their loan pay­ments go into a sav­ings fund they un­lock when the loan term ends–usu­ally af­ter three years. It's es­sen­tially a lay­away plan for a loan. Re­fresh, which em­ploys more than 80 peo­ple, has helped some 40,000 clients since it launched in 2013.

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