Small businesses are the life-blood of any economy. This is particularly pronounced here in the Philippines, where 2 of every 3 people is employed in one. According to World Bank, Asia Development Bank and the World economic Forum, access to finance for small businesses is the number one contributor of economic growth in an emerging economy like the Philippines. But despite contributing the majority of economic activity, there’s still a big shortfall in the supports necessary to support their growth. Additional finance in a business is a multiplier. It enables larger order sizes which produce more sales and profit with little extra effort, and the positive impact is many multiples of the cost.
For a long time lending was an activity which required a lot of labour and time, making it very difficult to do at scale and limiting the amount of businesses which could be supported. The technology now exists to remove the inefficiencies present in the different parts of the lending process, making the experience 10x better for clients, and increasing the number of businesses that can be reached.
We've spent the last 18 months slotting together the various parts of this puzzle using software and data science. And are well on our way to building a platform and company capable of having huge positive impact, not just on the people who work here, but on the Philippine economy as a whole. The journey has been fun so far, but it's still only just beginning.
We believe deeply in hiring great people and trusting them to do great work. We know that happier employees are more productive and produce better results for the company. Culture is one of the biggest multipliers when it comes to growing a successful, sustainable company, so we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can make it better. The type of person who works here is driven, motivated, empowered, and proud.
We've been very lucky to have been supported by some excellent people and organisations.
Accion are a global non-profit whose mission is "To give people the financial tools they need to improve their lives". In their 55 years of operation, they've lent over $10 billion to 6 million borrowers on 4 continents. We were very glad to have them join our most recent round of funding.
500 Startups are a global venture capital seed fund who are great at spotting early stage opportunity. They've invested in Twilio, Credit Karma, Grab, Udemy, Intercom, Talkdesk and a bunch of other successful technology companies. We're proud to say they also count us among their portfolio.
Lazada is the largest ecommerce website in the Philippines, and Southeast Asia at large, selling over $1 billion of products every year. Our partnership with Lazada gives their merchants access to instant, discounted finance.
GoNegosyo is a Filipino non-profit that believes "Filipinos can address poverty in the country by engaging in entrepreneurship" and runs programs to help people "take charge and make the most of their resources and abilities by utilizing and transforming these into viable enterprises". Our co-branded loan allows their customers access to a range of financing options to help make this a reality.
The Philippine Department of Trade & Industry is the government department responsible for the support of small businesses in the country. Through our partnership, small businesses can apply for First Circle financing through any of their 300 Negosyo centers across the Philippines.