LIMA, Peru – January 5, 2016 – Financial inclusion pioneer Accion announced a new investment today in Tienda Pago that will help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Latin American secure short-term working capital. Accion made the investment through Venture Lab, a $10 million initiative dedicated to providing seed capital and management support to innovative startups that expand financial access to the poor and underserved.
“Small businesses need access to appropriate financing in order to grow and thrive. Tienda Pago is creatively finding new ways to help mom-and-pop stores finance their inventories and expand. Working with beverage distributors, for example, Tienda Pago can help small businesses get access to credit and use mobile money to reduce the use of cash. We are excited to partner with Tienda Pago and help them expand through Latin America,” said Accion CEO and President Michael Schlein.
“Accion Venture Lab’s support for Tienda Pago goes far beyond its investment,” said Tienda Pago co-founder and CEO, Dan Cohen. “Their financial inclusion expertise, coupled with their extensive experience working with SME lenders, will help Tienda Pago expand into Mexico, find new distributor partners, and help more small businesses obtain the financing that they need.”
Tienda Pago first conducted operational pilots that proved the product and demand, loaning to over 300 ‘mom-and-pop’ stores to fund inventory purchases from major fast-moving consumer goods distributors. Following the initial pilot phase, Tienda Pago now expects to serve more than 10,000 clients throughout Latin America by the end of 2016. Its current clients include milk and soda distributors, such as Gloria, Nestle, and SABMiller. Tienda Pago partners with distributors to acquire client stores, and pays the distributors directly for inventory that is then delivered to the shop-owners; these shop-owners will then re-pay Tienda Pago within 1-2 weeks, after sales turnover, via electronic mobile payment platform.
This arrangement has major benefits for the distributors that work with Tienda Pago. The partnership helps distributors lower collection costs and security risks through reduced cash handling and a more efficient and reliable value-chain. Though still in the early stages of their relationship, Tienda Pago’s distributors have reported a 15-20% increase in sales to the SMEs using the service.
The model also addresses a need common throughout Central and Latin America, where SMEs often struggle to find the short-term working capital needed to restock their shelves or purchase new inventory. Though banks and microfinance institutions throughout the region have made some progress lending to these entrepreneurs, their loans are often used to finance major improvements or purchase large machinery. These loans take a great deal of time to process, and are typically much larger than what shop-owners need to restock their shelves and increase sales. Tienda Pago estimates that there are roughly 1.5 million independent small store owners throughout Peru, Mexico, and Colombia, all of which might benefit from small working capital loans.
The investment underscores Accion Venture Lab’s commitment to SME lenders. With 10 investments in separate SME lenders across more than 5 countries, Accion Venture Lab is working to ensure that underserved enterprises have access to the financial services that they need.
Accion is a global nonprofit dedicated to building a financially inclusive world with economic opportunity for all, by giving people the financial tools they need to improve their lives. We are building the next generation of top-tier microfinance institutions, and over more than 50 years have helped build 65 such institutions in 32 countries on four continents that today reach millions of clients. Our impact investing initiatives are pushing beyond microfinance to catalyze more than 20 innovative start-ups dedicated to improving the efficiency, reach and scope of financial services for the poor. And our Center for Financial Inclusion is helping to build a stronger industry with high standards and broad engagement. Currently, our work spans nearly two dozen countries, including the U.S., where we are the nation’s largest nonprofit microfinance network. For further information, visit http://www.accion.org.
About Tienda Pago
Tienda Pago is a regional company in Latin America, dedicated to provide working capital to small retail stores to finance their key consumer products. Tienda Pago works with Fast Moving Consumer Products (FMCGs) to address an imperative need in the traditional channel: how to improve the profitability of small clients and increase sales. Tienda Pago’s revolving credit line increases sales of small stores, and provides a versatile mobile wallet to both small stores and FMCGs to conduct all transactions, thus eliminating the costs and risk of cash collections. Tienda Pago operates in Peru and Venezuela, and will soon begin operations in Mexico. (www.tiendapago.com)
Ben Lebeaux, Senior Communications Specialist, Accion
617.625.7080 ext. 1037