Atsumasa Tochisako

Organization: 
MicroManos Corporation
Year founded: 
2003
Country: 
USA

MicroManos provides immigrants, many of them unbanked, with job assistance as well as financial services, such as loans, bill payment and remittances.

Focus: Employment, Financial Inclusion, Migration
Geographic Area of Impact: Global
Model: Social Business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 10,000 (2011)
Annual Budget: US$ 5.0 million (2011)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 100%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Japan, 2009

Background
Despite the robust growth of migration from developing countries to developed countries, affordable financial and HR services to immigrants, especially in the US, are scarce. As a result, a majority of migrant families struggle to obtain stable employment given language and cultural differences. Moreover, financial institutions have yet to develop targeted programmes for this population. In 2004, the World Bank reported that one-third of urban Latino families in the US did not have bank accounts while another third did not have access to credit services. Credit-scoring mechanisms often preclude immigrants because they lack credit history. As a result, immigrants often turn to expensive and poorly run cash-based businesses for remittance and other support services.

Innovation and Activities
Although there are private companies and non-profit organizations that handle remittance, microfinance and immigrants’ issues as their single service, MicroManos is the only organization that combines these matters into one business model with international coverage and immigrant-focused HR staffing services.

MicroManos specializes in professional job searches for immigrants to secure sustainable opportunities, especially in the hospitality industry. Once their income flow is stable, MicroManos’s Alante service offers migrant families low remittance rates. Regular remittances then help build migrants’ credit records, which subsequently grant them access to a full range of value-added services such as consumer loans, emergency loans and mortgages. To fill the labour demand gap, MicroManos will soon commence an international staffing service focusing on Filipino nurses eligible to work in US hospitals and medicare facilities.

The Entrepreneur
Atsumasa Tochisako grew up in poverty in post-World War II Japan. After graduating from university, he embarked on a 27-year career with the Bank of Tokyo, serving half of this time in Latin America. While there, he saw that individuals only needed small opportunities to live up to their full potential. Tochisako knew that financial institutions had the operational capacity and social responsibility to serve these needs, but failed to do so because of a lack of interest and innovation. He then took a step towards reforming the financial sector for the poor when he was assigned as the Bank of Tokyo’s chief representative in Washington DC. He founded Microfinance International Corporation and MicroManos in 2003 to create an infrastructure of financial and professional services to collectively address the needs of immigrants.