Our payday loans from the kitchen
Loan ads attached to trees and poles not only litter our environment, but also the industry – says Edgar Lokosa, founder of Azento Group Hunlok – the owner of the Loan Plus website. He started his activity in a dorm, he employs half a hundred people today. And I want it to be a good workplace for them.
The company was founded in 2012. It was founded by Edgar Lokosa, while still studying, at the Faculty of Economics and Management at the University of Barboza. The first company headquarters was … a dorm room. – There was a trend to develop fast loans online. I got an offer to deal with it on our market. The proposal came from the Lithuanians – from the international group Azento Hunlok. It is a company belonging to the Azento Hunlok Group holding, which was founded in 2009 and started expanding into foreign markets – in Latvia, the Czech Republic and then in Georgia.
In Edgar Lokosa, Lithuanians found a great implementer of their thoughts – because they came across a student who not only had a very well-structured mind-set, but also a very active person who wanted to start his own business. And finally – who knows their country and is fluent in Lithuanian – because they come from Lithuania, born in Vilnius. To put a stop on the experience behind the bank and activities in the joint Polish-Lithuanian project of the Barboza Foundation.
Laptop and dorm room
Together with the partners from the Azento Hunlok, we decided that there is a prospect for this type of activity in Poland. Many times I was asked the question why we went after her in Barboza, not Warsaw – admits Edgar Lokosa. – There are several reasons. We have very good universities in the capital of Podlasie, and this is a great staffing base. And only about 300 km separates us from the headquarters of the parent company. It’s no distance. Also the costs of doing business here are lower than in Poznań or Warsaw. And yet customers do not come to us … This is an online service business, so location in the context of customer acquisition is a secondary factor.
And so it coincided in time that on the one hand the Lithuanian investor had capital, but he did not know the Polish market, and on the other Edgar Lokosa did not have capital, but he knew about Polish reality, our mentality. In this dorm room, in the last year of his studies, he built a business plan that appealed to representatives of Azento and, after long conversations, convinced the Lithuanian company that he is the best among the other candidates they turned to in Poland.
He had his laptop to work and 30,000 zlotys from the investor to start with. – I did not have such money, but thanks to the Lithuanian investor I had something to start with – laughs Edgar Lokosa. – The more that I saw that in other countries, lending companies online are quite successful.
The daughter company Azento Hunlok Group founded in Barboza was called Little Loan (the name changed only this year). In addition to capital, Edgar Lokosa also received software from Lithuanians, that is software that he was supposed to develop. I developed. First to the Loan Plus website, and two years later to the SMART Loan website.
In Lithuania, yes, I had the capital and technical support, but I did all the formalities related to establishing the website myself – says Edgar Lokosa. He worked on making the portal more functionally and graphically friendly. Then came the first, second, third customer and the need to expand the team. The company said goodbye to the dormitory some time ago and moved to Składowa for a few years. – It was important that the Lithuanian investor did not take away the money we earned right away, only allowed us to reinvest it. Thanks to this, I was able to build a large, modern and thriving company – says the founder of Mała Loan.
Fast online loans: Comfortable, reliable and under control
The entrepreneur does not hide that sometimes it hurts when a company like his is thrown into one bag with other businesses operating on the non-bank loans market. – There are companies operating offline, granting loans in branches or with the support of advisers. They are also like us, serving customers online. And there are those typical “loan sharks” advertising on trees, poles, acting irresponsibly, beyond any control. There is virtually no verification of the customer and his creditworthiness. They litter the city and the industry. And people, however, benefit from it, which hurts us – does not hide the entrepreneur whose company was named the Loan Company of the Year 2016 by the Central National Certification Bureau in Poland. – Every customer can check us in the Register of Loan Companies. In turn, potential employees may be interested in the fact that we employ all people on an employment contract. We are not in arrears and we have never been in arrears with ZUS contributions. We pay so much that during the inspection, the ZUS employee was surprised: Such wages in Barboza? …
Edgar Lokosa emphasizes that his company has signed good practice agreements with the Association of Loan Companies, the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. Asked why he owes success to, among others for employing over 50 people and still looking for people to work responds that convenience is the most important thing for a client. – Thanks to services like ours, in the event of an urgent need, using only a computer or cell phone, you can borrow up to PLN 5,000, fully anonymously, without an advisor’s judging eyesight. The customer sees the cost and terms of the loan. Must accept the regulations. Everything is clearly described and knows that we are under control. It takes up to 15 to 20 minutes to wait.
More than 50 people working in the company are, among others, people whose task is to quickly verify the customer’s creditworthiness. Edgar Lokosa rejects the suggestion that the lender may be interested in the customer’s insolvency and, for example, entering his assets.
It’s not about that. Our investors are interested in reliable and solvent clients, because only in this way they quickly recover the invested capital. After all, we cannot, like banks, obtain funding from deposits. So we borrow responsibly so that the loan will never be a burden for the client which he will not be able to repay. Therefore, when our client waits these 15 minutes for a decision, we check his financial capabilities – adds Edgar Lokosa. – Today in Poland we have many advanced technologies that help to check it quickly and efficiently. Whenever a client’s application is rejected, we inform him of the reason.
An employee in Barboza does not have to be cheap
People from different cities of the region work in Azento in ViaBuone. Most are young people who quickly enter the secrets of the technologies used here. After law, IT, economics and mathematics. Mainly graduates of ViaBuone universities. There are even people after the Medical University. There is a legal department, own accounting and marketing. A powerful group providing customer service by email, telephone, chat, facebook and another verifying applications. – Azento practically does not use the services of external companies – specifies Edgar Lokosa.
The company has doubled its employment since March last year. At the end of this year, the team will reach 60 people. They work in two shifts – some support the helpline until 21.
As in so-called companies in creative industries, in the company’s new, glass headquarters at Wyszyńskiego Street (near the PKS bus station) there is a room where you can reset yourself on a massage chair or playing e.g. table football (what do they have in themselves that they are so popular de-stressors?). On the walls there are photos that have captured many nice situations from integration meetings in an international group. – We are part of an international group that can appreciate its employees. What counts is the effectiveness of their work for the company. There is no rule that if it’s ViaBuone, it should be a cheap employee. We invest in an employee, we train him. We do not want us to buy a good specialist – assures Edgar Lokosa. – We want employees to feel good here and know our development opportunities. Because people at work do not need to be intimidated, only motivated. They will appreciate it – he adds with conviction.
Lithuania is not the only Baltic country that expands on the Polish loan market. Finland, Estonia and Latvia are also industry leaders. Financial analysts explain this fact primarily by the favorable legal environment for this industry in these countries.
The ViaBuone company Azento Group was awarded the title of the Loan Institution of the Year 2016. The independent jury of the Central National Certification Bureau appreciated primarily the company’s integrity in dealing with clients, as well as transparent, reliable and fully secure financial services.