Once Upon a Founder: Educación Estrella

When faith becomes your strategic partner.

Mar 11, 2024 · 3 Minute Read

A family of five lying on a wooden floor smiling at the camera

This story was written by Mauro Berchi as part of the “Once Upon a Founder” series, where Mana Tech aims to provide a behind-the-scenes look into the unique and impressive origin stories of Latin American startups.

Wei-maa Hung bears a Chinese name because his military grandfather emigrated from Taiwan to Cali in the 1940s, following the conflict with China. The family quickly faced hardships, leading Wei’s father to enlist in the Colombian army to pursue higher education due to financial constraints.

Years later, Wei, now a husband and father, reflects, “If you ask me at which point in my life I’d revisit, without a doubt, it’s university. Not just for the knowledge, but for the experiences. Plus, I met my wife on the first day of classes.”

There is a fire, an incandescent flame in the eyes of this grandson of immigrants whose faith compels him to transmit values to young people that do not necessarily collect high amounts of clicks.

He explains, “The strategist behind Educación Estrella is God. We have a purpose with a Fintech, and not vice versa. Through education we offer hope, bringing us closer to embracing the hearts of young people.”

This narrative sets Educación Estrella apart as we explore its distinctive journey.

While working in the financial department at Universidad de Los Andes, Wei-maa Hung encountered numerous students facing economic crises, desperately seeking ways to continue their education. Inspired by these interactions, Hung, alongside his university friend and co-founder, Sergio Serna, envisioned a solution beyond individual university capabilities—a comprehensive network linking various institutions for collective support.

“When it comes to obtaining financial resources, dealing with thousands isn’t the same as dealing with tens of thousands,” explains Hung. “That is why Estrella is an ecosystem, and behind our company, there is a trust of experts. They make our project reliable for the investors.”

Their platform addresses key educational challenges: expanding access to university education for those who perceive it as out of reach and minimizing dropout rates through a pragmatic approach. Initially focusing on high school graduates who disregard higher education as a viable option, the platform also incorporates a sophisticated algorithm for assessing the financial risk of student loans, streamlining the process more effectively than traditional university loan management systems. Furthermore, to combat dropout rates, the developers are enhancing the platform’s educational technology to provide early alerts on students’ educational progress, ensuring timely intervention and support.

Estrella and its team are driven by the firm conviction that education represents hope. “That’s what we aim to provide to the new generations growing up in a world where everything seems easy, fast, and effortless. However, the college experience is the most transformative time in life.”

Inspired by his Christian faith, Wei envisions a future for his daughters where universities serve as a social network, nurturing community within their halls. “A student is a triangle whose vertices are social, cultural and economic capital. With Estrella, we solve your financing problems, covering 15 percent of monthly college expenses; then, it’s up to each student to pursue academic success. It’s the social capital that builds community ties and makes us have faith in the future we can build together.”

Wei’s decision to join the Miami Immersion Program in November 2023 was notably influenced by Moishe Mana‘s impactful contributions. “Moishe Mana is instilling in new generations a refreshed view of the world and life. His long-term vision nurtures a flourishing tech hub, uniting the Americas towards a shared future.”

For Wei, every student is a ‘Star’—hence the company’s name, Spanish for star. He envisions the Latin American skies filled with guiding lights, symbolizing the hope that, beyond talent, faith is essential in navigating challenges.

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