Since we first announced the Impact Factoring Fund, we’ve been working hard to help our portfolio companies take advantage of the opportunity to access working capital. One of our portfolio companies, Frogtek, is particularly excited to apply the IFF to its efforts of financing tablets for their customers in Mexico and Colombia.
Frogtek’s innovative technology is an application, Tiendatek, which allows micro shopkeepers to manage sales and inventory on their smartphone or tablet. Most of Frogtek’s customers, however, do not have the hardware required to run the software, nor ability to afford it. With the limited consumer financing options available, the burden falls on Frogtek. We asked Founder David del Ser some questions about Frogtek’s progress, working in Latin America, and why he is excited about being an IFF Partner. Continue reading to find out what he had to say.
ID: What are your biggest challenges working in Latin America?
David: When you work with micro-entrepreneurs at the base of the pyramid, one of the main difficulties is their lack of credit history and access to loans on reasonable terms. The typical customer we are after just doesn’t have the ability to pay upfront for the hardware we sell. They want our product but just don’t have the cash on hand to make one payment.
But when we turn to the available financing sources, we find interest rates well above 60% that don’t reflect the fact that our product is its own collateral.
ID: This quarter, you launched loan financing on Kiva. Why is it important to help your customers afford tablets?
David: The only way to make real progress in our roll-out is to finance the hardware purchase. Kiva offers us a great option so we don’t have to use our hard-earned equity capital. The shopkeepers are excited to be featured on a global site and, of course, enjoy the benefits of our product.
ID: How will the Impact Factoring Fund help Frogtek?
David: Given our projected growth, we will need at some point to shift from retail sources of financing like Kiva to more wholesale sources to reduce operating costs. Also, Kiva for instance has limits on how much cash they will lend to a non-traditional partner. The IFF will help Frogtek achieve scale while keeping operating costs low.
ID: What will Frogtek be able to do with additional working capital?
David: We will be able to grow faster by putting more capital to work on our sales and distribution efforts. That will also help us by reducing our product costs, since larger orders get better prices, which will again speed our deployments!
ID: Why should an impact investor consider the IFF?
David: I believe there are three main reasons:
- Catalytic: Many social entrepreneurs face similar working capital constraints, so we are facing a systemic problem here. The IFF will play a pioneering role exploring mechanisms that can solve this problem and thus will trigger further investment in the field
- Impact: Frogtek’s product fosters financial inclusion, as we provide the shopkeeper with a bank account and an insurance policy. And of course, our product is technologically inclusive, generating a boost of productivity at our customers’ microenterprises. Investing in the IFF is an opportunity to enhance this impact.
- Risk/Return: The IFF is designed to ensure an optimal risk/return profile. In the case of Frogtek, there is collateral in the form of hardware that can be repurposed. The risk is minimized and the risk/return profile is optimized.
The IFF is just one of the exciting updates from Frogtek. Check out the summer newsletter to meet the new CEO, learn about the Colombian rollout, and read media highlights. Many thanks to David for answering our questions! Look out for him at SOCAP.
Image courtesy of Frogtek.