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Errol Damelin
Born (1969-08-23) 23 August 1969 (age 54)
South Africa
Alma materUniversity of Cape Town
Boston University
Occupation(s)Entrepreneur and early-stage technology investor
Known forFounding
Children3 [1]

Errol Damelin (born 23 August 1969) is a South African entrepreneur and early-stage technology investor. In 2007 he co-founded Wonga, an internet payday loan company that gained notoriety for charging extremely high interest on short-term loans.[2] After Damelin stepped down as CEO of the company in 2013, the company went into administration on 30 August 2018.[3]


Errol Damelin was born in South Africa on 23 August 1969. Damelin grew up in a Jewish family in Klerksdorp, South Africa, with his father being an anaesthesiologist. Upon graduating from high school Damelin attended the University of Cape Town.[4] He was politically active at the university, winning an election to the UCT Students Representative Council and participating in anti-apartheid rallies. During this time he was detained for protesting against the apartheid government policy of detention without trial.[citation needed] He graduated from the University of Cape Town in 1995, before eventually getting an MBA at Boston University in Boston, United States.[5] Damelin subsequently emigrated to Israel, where he began working as a corporate finance banker at an Israeli investment bank.[6] In 1997 he left his job to help found Barzelan, a producer of speciality steel wire based in Beit Shemesh, Israel.[7] In 2000 Damelin founded Supply Chain Connect, a cloud based supply chain software company. Based in London, United Kingdom, the company developed software for the supply chains of companies, including Dow Chemicals, DuPont, Phelps Dodge, General Cable, Mondi Packaging, and Corning. In 2005 Damelin sold the business to ChemConnect for an undisclosed amount.

In 2007 Damelin and Jonty Hurwitz launched, a payday loan website that provided short term loans to borrowers in the United Kingdom and abroad. Despite initial skepticism from banks, Wonga processed one hundred thousand loans within two years and lowered its initial 50% default rate significantly.[8] By 2013 the company had grown to over five hundred employees, with revenues of £300 million. That year it also acquired the Germany-based BillPay and launched Everline, a provider of loans for small and medium-sized businesses.[9] In November 2013 Damelin stepped down as CEO of the company due to its declining profits and allegations that it was exploiting the most vulnerable in society. Several weeks later, Wonga was required by the Financial Conduct Authority to offer about £2.6 million in compensation to customers for poor historic debt collection practices, which had included the sending of fake solicitor letters to its customers. Several months prior, Damelin had called for better regulation of the consumer lending sector and more transparency in the wider financial services industry of the United Kingdom.[10] When asked about Wonga's controversial lending practices after his resignation, Damelin said that he had no moral issues with them, claiming that that credit could be an important force for good when given transparently and fairly and that Wonga's customers were overwhelmingly happy with and supportive of the company.[citation needed] After an increase in customer compensation claims, Wonga went into administration on 30 August 2018.[3]

Personal life

Damelin lives in London and has three children.[1]


Damelin has received several entrepreneurial awards:


Damelin has donated to Jewish charities and has appeared on panels and discussions for World Jewish Relief and Jewish Care.[18][19] Damelin has also been an ambassador for Charity: Water and ran the Antarctic Ice marathon, where he raised substantial funds for the charity. In 2015 Damelin became a founding member of Founders Pledge, a group of technology entrepreneurs who pledged 2% of the equity in their companies to philanthropic causes.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Damelin now Wonga chair in board reshuffle". CityAM. 12 November 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  2. ^ Rupert Jones (16 December 2014). "Wonga cuts cost of borrowing, but interest rate still 1,509% | Money". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b Collinson, Patrick; Jones, Rupert (30 August 2018). "Wonga collapses into administration". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Wonga's Errol Damelin profile: Hey big (payday) lender". The Independent. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2023.
  5. ^ "Wonga's Errol Damelin profile: Hey big (payday) lender". The Independent. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2023.
  6. ^ Wonga chief speaks to the JC
  7. ^ Cookson, Robert (31 May 2013). "Wonga's financial insurgent sets sights on small businesses". Financial Times. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  8. ^ Palmer, Maija (24 May 2009). "Wonga pushes web loan innovation". Financial Times. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  9. ^ Andrew Cave (13 May 2012). "Wonga's Ice-cool chief Errol Damelin can take the heat". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  10. ^ James Quinn (30 June 2013). "Wonga boss Errol Damelin: it's time to push the bad guys out of payday loans". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  11. ^ "Winners of the 2017 Digital Entrepreneur Awards". Digital Entrepreneur Awards. Archived from the original on 26 February 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  12. ^ "The 2010 Growing Business Awards". Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  13. ^ Butcher, Mike. "The Europas European Startup Awards 2010 – The Winners and Finalists". TechCrunch. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  14. ^ "Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 Winners Announced - EY - United Kingdom". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  15. ^ "Megas Digital Innovation awards 2011: Winners". The Guardian. 25 March 2011. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  16. ^ "Megas Digital Innovation awards 2012: Errol Damelin". The Guardian. 19 October 2011. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  17. ^ "The Founders Forum continues to generate innovative discussion (Wired UK)". Archived from the original on 8 August 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  18. ^ "The JC Profile: Errol Damelin, payday loan king". Jewish Chronicle. 3 October 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  19. ^ Sandy Rashty (3 October 2013). "Jewish Care attacked over Wonga appearance". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 25 June 2014.