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Immigrant Entrepreneur Hall of Fame: Roy and Bertrand Sosa

 

Country of origin: Mexico

Year came to U.S.: 1986

Education: University of Texas at Austin

Business: NetSpend Corporation (1999), MPOWER Labs (2006)

Headquarters: Austin, TX (NetSpend)

2015 revenue: $580.4 million (NetSpend)

Worldwide employment: >500

 

  • The Sosa brothers created NetSpend, the largest prepaid debit card processor serving nearly 4 million customers annually.
  • They also created a “double bottom line” investment partnership to bring services to the underserved.

 

Brothers Roy and Bertrand Sosa moved to Austin, Texas, from Mexico as teenagers in 1986 because their mother wanted to pursue a career as a doctor in the United States. Having grown up in a cash-based society in Mexico, the Sosa brothers wondered how people without credit cards functioned in American society. In the late 1990s, the dot-com boom was making online purchasing more common, and the idea for NetSpend was born.

Modeled after pre-paid phone cards, the goal was to provide consumers who lack established credit or banking relationships with pre-paid debit cards that offered the same flexibility and convenience as traditional debit and credit cards. The Sosa brothers launched NetSpend in 1999 from their one-bedroom apartment with $750. The company went public in October 2010 and was purchased in 2013 by Total System Services for $1.4 billion.

In 2011, the Federal Reserve estimated that 70 million people in America with more than $300 billion in annual income don’t have a savings account or access to credit. NetSpend is the largest prepaid debit card processor addressing this market with more than $4 billion in transactions each year for more than 2 million customers.

While still at the helm of NetSpend, the Sosa brothers created a “double bottom line” investment partnership called MPOWER to make investments that have high profitability and high social impact. In 2006, they launched MPOWER Labs, Inc., a research and development incubator and business accelerator for growing businesses that bring new and needed products and services to the underserved.

Updated August 2016

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