After the experience as an exchange student in an Insper Undergraduate Program, Silvan Roth returned to Brazil with the objective of creating a new company using artificial intelligence to reduce loan bureaucracy
Switzerland-born alumnus Silvan Roth took part in an exchange within an Insper Graduate Program in 2012. Without ever having visited Latin America, he decided to join a student mobility program in Brazil upon seeing some news about the Brazilian economic performance emerging at that time. Besides having passed the selection process for the exchange, Roth was approved to receive a scholarship from the Lemann Foundation.
His first professional experiences took place in big financial market players. However, he always nurtured an interest in tackling the problem of high interest rates in Brazil. After stints at prominent universities like St. Gallen in Switzerland and HEC Paris in France, Roth says Insper is a school where he felt pretty welcomed. It motivated his interest in being an entrepreneur in our country and strengthening ties between Switzerland and Brazil.
“I’m happy to see that the spark that originated in my exchange semester and the support I received from the Lemann Foundation created a new bond between the two countries that I now call home,” says Roth.
Read the interview with Silvan Roth below:
Why did you choose to study in Brazil?
I had always wanted to do an exchange, and my question was precisely where to apply. On the one hand, as an Economics student, I was looking for a place where markets were booming. On the other, I wanted a sense of adventure, immersing myself in a culture that was completely foreign to me. Back then, in 2012, I was reading a lot of news about Brazil’s stellar economic performance. And as I didn’t know anything about the region and didn’t speak a word of Portuguese, I thought this would be the perfect place for my adventure.
How did you join Insper?
I applied for an exchange semester at Insper and was accepted. I had also had the great privilege of receiving a scholarship from the Lemann Foundation. It is an institution that, from the beginning, has given me invaluable support on my journey. This extraordinary support created in me a personal commitment to closer ties between Switzerland and Brazil.
My time at the school was an exceptional experience and one of the best investments I made in my professional career. Even among the other leading universities that I attended, like St. Gallen and HEC Paris, Insper stands out for creating a unique growth environment. It truly moves people forward in their paths and projects. The friendships I made with alumni, professors, and staff members during my stint [at the school] remain strong, even a decade after my exchange semester. This helped me a lot to settle here and call São Paulo my second home.
What are your professional experiences?
After my exchange semester, I joined a six-month trainee program on the portfolio management desk at UBS Wealth Management Brazil. As it is a condition to obtain a work permit, I had to follow a joint educational trajectory. So, I took the opportunity to renew my bond with Insper. I attended the Certificate in Financial Management courses. Learning about the specifics of how capital is allocated in Brazil and comparing it with what I knew from Europe really piqued my curiosity for future business opportunities in Brazil.
I returned to Europe to finish my undergraduate studies but I always kept in close contact with my network formed at Insper. After a short stint in large investment banks in London and Paris, I joined an investment fund. Managing a credit portfolio brought my professional focus back to the topic of capital allocation. And, as Brazil is a country with astronomically high interest rates, I started to look closely at business opportunities just at the time when the Brazilian Central Bank changed the regulatory landscape for loans and opened the market to competition, including from abroad.
How did you decide to start a business in Brazil?
After four years in the financial market, the time was perfect for me to leave the fund industry behind and see how I could use my investment knowledge to build a business and try to tackle the problem of high interest rates in Brazil. So, once again, my trajectory brought me closer to Insper. This time, by joining the Center for Entrepreneurship.
Along with a team of data scientists and investment professionals, I’m now working at Emprex. It is a fintech and artificial intelligence startup in Brazil. Our mission is to significantly improve people’s access to fair and affordable personal loans. We’ve built a state-of-the-art digital lending system that allows Brazilians to refinance their expensive bank loans with our sustainable loans.