TruBlu Financial Services champions work and travel loans
MICROFINANCE institution TruBlu Financial Services is seeking to make greater inroads into tertiary institutions across Jamaica as it expands its work and travel financing client base.
The company, which was founded in 2016 by Managing Director Julan Johnson, is a Bank of Jamaica (BOJ)-licensed microcredit institution operating in the online space, focusing solely on its work and travel product.
TruBlu previously offered personal finance and private practice products but, according to Marketing and Communications Director Akiem Parkins, those products were shelved in 2021 as the company waited on the approval of its microcredit licence from the BOJ.
Parkins told Jamaica Observer that the company champions its work and travel financing product as it recognises the need to provide opportunities to tertiary-level students who lack the necessary funding or resources to advance their applications.
“So a lot of times opportunity presents itself and it’s within our reach, but we lack the necessary resources to take advantage of those opportunities. So TruBlu acts as the middleman, essentially, between you and your opportunity. Again, work and travel or one aspect of work and travel is not just going abroad to work but it’s also the experience; it’s also interacting or engaging with different cultures, the exposure and from a more economic standpoint that will in turn benefit the country,” he stated.
The director added that the COVID-19 pandemic would have robbed some students of the chance to experience or return to the work and travel programme due to the financial constraints presented by the contagion.
“We realised that one of the repercussions from COVID-19 is that a lot of persons were unable to go on work and travel during that period since those persons still haven’t recovered from the pandemic. So as such, the person that would have gone on to work and travel, and then put aside money to go on the programme again the following year, they can’t do that because the money that they have or put aside to go to work or travel the following year, they end up spending that to sustain a lifestyle,” Parkins explained.
“So basically what TruBlu is doing is presenting those individuals with an opportunity to go back on their programme, as well as individuals that haven’t gone on a programme before, giving them an opportunity to go for the first time,” he continued.
At present, TruBlu’s clientele comprises students at The University of the West Indies, Mona; University of Technology, Jamaica; Caribbean Maritime University; and Northern Caribbean University. The microcredit financier is using both traditional and digital media channels to expand its client base beyond Corporate Area-based tertiary institutions.
Additionally, Parkins said the company has partnered with a number of agencies to secure referrals for loans. However, he pointed out that the students would need to be approved before soliciting funding, submitting a letter from an agency indicating their approval.
“So, after you have been approved we’ll take it from there regarding the financing aspect… because one of the requirements is for you to be approved from the work and travel agency,” he informed Sunday Finance.
When asked how well operating without traditional brick and mortar has served the microfinance institution, Parkins pointed out that it reduces wait time and long lines for clients and allows TruBlu to be nimble. Furthermore, he said that it allows clients to communicate with the institution at any time using various channels — telephone, social media, e-mails, and website — and they can expect a response in a reasonable time.
Employing a team of approximately 10 individuals, TruBlu has seen its revenues increase by between 20 and 30 per cent over the last three years, Parkins said.
The company plans to reintroduce its personal finance and private practice loans in 2024.