Aneesh Varma of Aire

“I look at all my journeys of starting a company as trying to unlock some social change.”

Aire is a London-based fintech company that augments the credit scores of “thin-file” customers — those with little or no credit history — so they can get unbiased access to loans, including mortgages and student loans. As Aire’s founder and CEO, Aneesh Varma, explains in this interview, the growing ranks of independent entrepreneurs, freelancers, and consultants often don’t fit a traditional lender’s desired profile, as they lack regular salary histories, for example. Says Varma, “As people’s lives change and they become self-employed, or freelancers and contractors, how are the financial services coping… and who’s helping create financial products for this new type… of work, and style of life?” With Aire, a lender can collect additional information on an applicant using the online Aire “virtual interview” process, which will give a more complete account of creditworthiness.

A serial entrepreneur himself, Varma can relate to his target customer’s credit challenges. “I’ve been through that, and most of my team’s been through that,” he says. He’s counting on being ahead of the curve as he looks to the future. Speaking of the increasing workforce trend toward self-employment or, as some call it, the “gig economy,” he says, “I think it will take us 15 or 20 years as a society to realize this change has happened. But Aire is trying to make… inroads today so that when that change does happen, society’s ready… and we’re sort of caught up on it.”

This interview took place at the June 2017 CEO Forum and Fintech for Inclusion Global Summit, hosted by Accion Venture Lab, FMO, and Quona Capital.

Aire and Accion Venture Lab have partnered since 2016.

For more from Aneesh Varma, listen to his 2016 interview on Accion Venture Lab’s VentureKast podcast.

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