Vancouver startup banks on a niche: unbanked seasonal farm workers

November 04, 2020
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In a world where many people do their banking quickly and conveniently online, Canada’s seasonal agricultural workers have been left behind. Those visiting labourers don’t just toil in the fields—sending money home to their families in Mexico and other countries is a chore, too.

When Rene Blanco and Jaspal Brar looked at the problem, they saw an opportunity to build a business by helping seasonal workers save time and money. The result was Labora Consulting Services Corp., a Vancouver startup they founded with Ryan Klatt in 2018 while all three were executive MBA students at SFU Beedie School of Business. “The idea was to provide payroll transfer on behalf of seasonal workers, because so far, the current process has been done the same way for 50 years,” Blanco says.

For participants in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), the traditional remittance process is time-consuming and expensive. After getting a paycheque from the farm owner, the worker cashes it at the bank and takes the funds to a money transfer service. Their beneficiary back home goes to pick up the money and deposits it in the bank.

Remitting money can also be unsafe. “Sometimes they’re limited to sending $1,000, so if they want to send more of their paycheque, they have to use a third [party] to collect their money in Mexico,” explains Blanco, a Mexican who began studying at SFU in 2017.

Read the full story at BCBusiness.