In 2016 Amadeu and Laura Ferreira emigrated from Brazil to Canada. They experienced firsthand the challenges and barriers newcomers face in securing housing in a new country, and the vulnerability housing insecurity causes.
“Adapting to a new country is difficult and the journey can feel extremely lonely at times,” said Amadeu. “We wanted to make the transition easier and less intimidating for others so they wouldn’t have to experience what we did. Together, we came up with the idea for Vambora.”
Vambora was developed by three co-founders – Amadeu Ferreira, the CEO, Mark Dickens, COO, and Alessandro Santos, Vice President of Technology. It started as a platform created to help users find and access housing and community services using the online marketplace. Through Vambora’s platform, customers can proactively access essential services such as opening a Canadian bank account, securing housing, and activating cell phone plans in time for their arrival in Canada. In addition, its planner tool was designed to assist users with budgeting by providing statistical averages for housing, childcare, transportation, and other services to help newcomers become accustomed to the cost of living in Canada.
“Once we began testing our services in Kitchener Waterloo, we quickly ran into issues with supply. It’s an extremely competitive market, and there’s not much on the street,” said Mark, co-founder of Vambora. “As we began interacting with users more and more, we quickly discovered that there was a much deeper problem.”
All newcomers around the world are rendered "credit invisible" upon arrival in a new country of residence because underwriters globally can't access international credit data. Recent immigrants frequently struggle to access basic needs such as obtaining an apartment lease, a credit card, a bank account, a cell phone plan, and other services, even though they had good credit in their home countries.
The largest credit rating agencies in the world don’t offer an international credit report system, which is just one piece of the creditworthiness analysis. Lenders and service providers are looking for an easy-to-use, comprehensive credit report that allows them to assess customers' financial capacity as part of the credit analysis process.
Even with assistance from Vambora, immigrants are still applying for housing in highly competitive environments and are often competing against domestic applicants who can provide credit checks, references, statements from previous landlords, employment income, etc.
To help level the playing field and empower people moving to Canada, the Vambora team decided to pivot its business model.
“We’ve recently developed the Vambora ‘Global Risk Profile’ or GRP. The GRP will be utilized across different industries and sectors to assess newcomers’ creditworthiness and to provide access to the products and services they qualify for,” said Amadeu. “We utilize Consumer-Permissioned Data from the origin country to generate the credit profile in a format familiar and applicable for lenders and service providers in destination countries like Canada to assess consumers’ creditworthiness. We believe the GCP will solve the credit invisibility problem”.
In 2022 Vambora enrolled in AC:Cowork, and has been operating out of our head office.
“Coworking at the AC gives us the ability to have open communication and collaboration as a team, and allows us to make decisions faster and easier,” said Amadeu. “We’re also able to utilize the board rooms when we meet with new partners or clients to make a better first impression and build stronger relationships.”
“We like to leverage the resources and mentorship that are available here at the AC as much as possible. Access to boardrooms, the coworking spaces, the kitchen, and the pool table – have been instrumental for us to build a strong culture and a high-performing team,” said Mark. “It’s also filled with like-minded entrepreneurs, so even if you’re just grabbing a coffee in the kitchen, you may just run into someone with an amazing business or business idea that could really help you. There’s also lots of opportunity for partnerships and investment, whether it’s with other AC companies or VC’s.”
By 2023, Vambora plans to have the Global Risk Profile launched in Canada and expand to the US by 2024. Stay tuned for the launch of Vambora’s new offerings and updated web services, coming soon!