The Financial Inclusion Summit Series: Issue no. 5

From Abraham Guzman, Founder and Product Lead of EVVA Finanzas

 

There are around 400 million of small and medium enterprises generating up to 60% of the employment and contributing up to 40% of the GDP in emerging economies. These are the companies that make each country competitive, these are the people that create an impact and foster growth for everyone.

However, we know entrepreneurship is not easy. Small enterprises face myriad problems on a day-to-day basis: 80% of them “die” all around the world due to inefficient or non-existing financial management, problems managing cash flows, unexpected outgoings, lack of financing options, etc. And the truth is that money anxiety persists in every each of them.

That’s why EVVA is rethinking business banking by crafting financial experiences made personal, transparent and simple; with the ambition to help entrepreneurs in emerging economies to make better decisions about their money, their business and their nation’s future.

And it’s not just by helping them, but to help everyone.

As the first and main contributors to the economic chain within a country, true development potential gets unleashed by financially including the most vulnerable businesses into EVVA’s system. From the charming coffee pickers in Colombia and the one-legged fishermen in Myanmar to the inexhaustible electronics distributors in China… every big change sparks from the bottom. And not the other way around.

For this reason, EVVA’s priority segment are these businesses at the first stages of the chain: the raw material pickers, providers and manufacturers. EVVA firmly believe that by attending their necessities they can create a strong network effect in its financial products adoption. Because in the end it doesn’t matter if you’re the new guy in the block, standardization means adoption.

EVVA will be offering a business savings account that can be opened in 1 day within the first release the our product to create the first wave of standardization. EVVA’s vision is to create an open banking platform that offers what is already in the market: more than 50,000 financial services providers that just do not focus on or attend this segment.

Challenges lie ahead as with every major venture started by those who defy the statu quo. Like in EVVA’s initial target market, Mexico, where inequalities create an unorthodox way of living and thus, a constraint to reach these people who don’t enjoy the benefits of development. But by being creative and hustling enough to join with the most strategic partners plus the correct use of the digital infrastructure, couldn’t it be better?

The support by TheFactory and Innovation Norway in Mexico is the proof that developed countries are all-in on the efforts of financially including the excluded. And emerging countries too, that every year launch initiatives to foster growth. In Mexico, where national financial innovation competition is strong, EVVA obtained support needed by its biggest development bank, NAFIN.

Along the rest of ours partners, Ictineo Bank, NAFIN and Flux Financiera, we are just more sure than ever that there hasn’t been a better moment in history to create a financially included world.

The only lasting question might be then… will you help us in this endeavor?

 

Our current successes

Industry validation

  • The Factory winners (Best Fintech Accelerator in Norway)
  • Innovation Norway mentees
  • INCmty Accelerator 2018 winners (Biggest Entrepreneurship summit in LATAM)
  • Applicando Mexico 2018 winners (Fintech Government Contest)

Traction results

  • First 100+ businesses signed-up in 10 days since pre-launching
  • First 3 national partnerships signed-up for financial services distribution

Partnerships/Supporters

  • The Factory
  • Innovation Norway
  • NAFIN (Mexican Development Bank)
  • Ictineo Bank
  • Flux Financiera (Factoring company)
  • Mifiel (Digital Signature)

 

The Product

We are building an open banking platform for small and medium enterprise owners based in emerging markets. During our first MVP, we wanted to help SMEs in Mexico to obtain a digital identity which enables them to get access to basic financial services. The promise is to digitize the whole onboarding process and deliver a business account in just 1 day.

We are removing manual intervention and costs needed to let a business open its bank account, which happens to be one of the main reasons of the underdevelopment of this economic sector.

Once a SME digital identity is in place we support the the next level of financial services, focusing on working capital financing. For this purpose we have established important partnerships with 2 financial institutions, which will be able to issue 2 different types of support through our platform: microloans and factoring. At this same stage, we will also provide financial education helping entrepreneurs take better financial decision and habits like budget managing and bucket saving.

During the next phase, we want to enable small businesses to accept digital payments and reduce the use of cash by adopting the recently released payment scheme in Mexico (CoDi), an account based payment method, enabling a significant improvement in the adoption of digital payments methods due to the extremely low cost of transaction. Businesses, through this system, receive their revenues on the same day, compared with the week needed currently.

 

The Challenges

The main challenge is that at micro enterprises level there is a tendency to remain at the first stage, mostly because of lack of education and tax misconceptions. This is a challenge that is being addressed from many different perspectives. The Mexican Government too is trying to tackle this situation through tax incentives so that the number of registered business increases over time.

The other important challenge is trust. It is known that businesses are reluctant to try new models and options. However, we see a trend where new fintech startups are really gaining traction and trust of different segments.

 

How it all started (from the founder)

I have been always close small business owners that aim to create new jobs and new opportunities in the local communities – like my aunt’s bakery, my cousin’s restaurant or my best friend’s food truck. All of them were very successful businesses, with growth came the difficulty of managing them. For example my friend was handling all his finances with cash and a notebook, He had continuous problems with cash flow and no access to financing.…

So one day he decided to make a change: he wanted to grow, to take the next step. He decided to go to a bank to get a business account: firstly he found a very long line at the branch, for hours. Then he managed to talk to a bank representative, who gave him all the required paperwork. Endless forms and bureaucracy made him gave up.

So I started thinking: “Why is it so difficult for entrepreneurs to take the next step, especially when digitalization is available?”

Having lived in in Norway for several years, I was inspired by the high level of digitization of financial services available in the country… initiatives such as BankID, Vipps and Bankaxept.

I found the motivation to be an agent of change and try to contribute to the emerging countries (like my home country) where there is a major gap in financial inclusion. This is why I founded EVVA.

Innovation happens in so many ways. One way is to combine different cultures, technologies and ways of solving problems or just to export the great level of know-how and user experience from Norway to emerging countries, like Mexico.

I consider EVVA a bridge of innovation between Scandinavia and emerging markets, where we want to develop new financial experiences for the underserved – the final ambition is to make social and economic impact.

 

The Financial Inclusion Summit takes place in Oslo, Norway, on 28 March 2019. To find out more or request an invitation, visit: https://financial-inclusion.com/#register

 

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