Increase the flow of loans to immigrant small business owners

Gabriela Campoverde wants to help deploy more capital for immigrant small business owners by making the process more efficient. And, she believes, if your first attempt doesn’t work, keep trying.

When her first attempt – becoming a lender – didn’t work out, she switched gears. Specifically, she created Miren, a company with a platform to help banks invest in low-to-moderate income communities, monitor those investments, and ultimately increase the flow of funding to communities. small enterprises.

With a background in financial services, Campoverde has worked in marketing, project management and cybersecurity at American Express and Goldman Sachs. But she had long had an interest in fintech and, on top of that, was frustrated with what she saw as a lack of products for working-class immigrant communities.

Then, in 2020, while attending the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Campoverde learned about the financing access gap for minority small business owners, especially for Latinos. And, quarantining at her home in Queens with her family, she saw how difficult the experience of the pandemic was for much of her community.

With that in mind, while still in school, she went door-to-door talking to Latin American immigrant small business owners about their financial situation and how they had obtained start-up capital. startup. Through these interviews, she better understood how these small businesses had access to affordable capital and the lack of resources available to them.

An idea and a pivot

This sparked a business idea: a company that would lend to Latino-owned small businesses, using different criteria than the usual information required to assess a company’s creditworthiness. It would also educate borrowers on topics such as loan preparation and application. But, “When we tried to raise affordable capital for the idea, we failed,” she says. This is mainly because the providers of capital, believing these to be risky ventures, insisted that the price of that risk be priced accordingly.

So Campoverde pivoted and, late last year, started talking to microlenders and others who are usually the ones who lend to risky small businesses, tapping into the money provided by larger institutions. financial. Under the Community Reinvestment Act, banks are required to invest in low-to-moderate income communities. Providing these loans, of course, is unprofitable because it takes so long to secure them. Thus, banks are usually microlenders that operate within these communities.

But many lenders, she found, had inefficient systems, sometimes still using manual data entry, multiple Excel sheets or many separate systems, cutting and pasting data from one program to another. “Things can easily slip through the cracks,” says Campoverde.

Perhaps a better approach, she realized, would be to develop software that could improve the efficiency of these institutions, ultimately allowing them to serve more customers and deploy more capital. . Campoverde therefore created loan origination and management software for microlenders, helping them assess applications and track their loans. It could also free up time, so lenders could spend more time providing technical support to small business owners. It was launched last fall as part of an ongoing pilot project with two institutions.

Now, Campoverde and technical lead Luke Fraker are developing another product, allowing financial institutions to monitor ARC investments and aggregate the data. Microlenders and others who obtain money from banks are required to report on areas such as the number of jobs created or the evolution of a company’s income. But they usually send banks all of this information using the same disparate systems they use internally. This means it can be cumbersome to aggregate all the data they need. The new product will streamline the process and provide a more efficient and faster way to consolidate information.

Campoverde has raised around $250,000 through competitions, much of it from the AWS Impact Accelerator she recently completed. She intends to raise a seed next year.

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