Ben Knelman created a social enterprise that helps first-time bank account holders in the developing world learn how to save money.
Ben began his start-up in a d.school class, though he didn’t know it at the time. For one project he engaged low-income people who had little access to traditional banking services, and experimented with text messages as a way to help people establish savings behaviors.
A year after the class was over he reconnected with one of his test users: Karina, a janitor at Stanford. Despite a salary of just $21,000, she had continued to use Ben’s original prototype and was proud to report that she had saved $2000 over the previous 12 months.
Ben knew he couldn’t let the project drop. Through more classes he deepened his skills and passion to launch a business and serve those on the financial fringes.
That business became Juntos, which has won several awards for financial inclusion, and which Ben still leads today. Juntos is reaching over 1M people in seven countries in Central America, South East Asia, and East Africa.
Ben holds degrees in Economics, Russian Literature, and Engineering from Stanford University, and is the CEO and founder of Juntos. He took three d.school classes while a graduate student.