As founder and chief executive officer of Atlas Finance (Pty) Ltd, Jack Halfon oversees one of South Africa’s most successful microlending organizations, helping individuals, families, and small business owners meet a wide range of short-term financial obligations. In business for the past two decades, Mr. Halfon has grown Atlas from a modest, Johannesburg-based microfinance operation to a nationwide corporation with 170-plus branches. In the process, Mr. Halfon and Atlas Finance have issued more than two million loans to clients who need to cover household expenses, transportation costs, hospital bills, school tuition and other common debts. Offering loans of 8,000 rand or less, Mr. Halfon and his team at Atlas Finance make it possible for residents of Johannesburg, Soweto, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, and other major urban areas to obtain temporary relief from their everyday expenditures. Licensed as a registered credit provider by the National Credit Regulator, Atlas Finance also maintains affiliation with MicroFinance South Africa, the country’s largest trade group for microfinance credit providers.
An entrepreneur who embodies the bootstrapping spirit, the Harare, Zimbabwe-born Jack Halfon arrived in South Africa as a young man with a mere R 300 in hand. Amid numerous financial difficulties and setbacks, Mr. Halfon eventually became an influential figure in South African microfinance, offering the support he once needed to others in similar situations. Even today, with more than 1,300 employees and an eight-person board of directors, Mr. Halfon makes sure to “pay it forward” by giving back to poor communities in need. Through these and other actions, he hopes to inspire South Africa’s next generation of entrepreneurs.