7/6/18 – This blog post is written by Will Coffey, a student in the GSSE MBA program, and is in Peru this summer for his MBA field research.
The financial access team, a.k.a. team CLAW (Cristina, Will, Atkelt and Will— we know, we are still searching for a better name!) is conducting an analysis of the current state of financial access in Peru. Cristina and I have been on the ground in Peru for three weeks, conducting interviews with microfinance institutions, banks, angel investors, FinTech startups, digital payment platforms and other entities. We’ve been learning about the lack of trust between financial institutions and poor populations, the cash-only informal economy that constitutes around 70% of economic activity, and the many barriers and opportunities there are for social enterprises to increase Peruvian financial access. Meanwhile, Atkelt and Lombola have been searching for financial access solutions that exist elsewhere (in the US and abroad) that might be applicable to the Peru’s economic landscape.
To aid in our summer research, we have partnered with two GSSE alumni. With Guatemala-based startup, BotPro, (founded by Andreana Castellanos from Cohort 8), we are exploring how Facebook messenger can be used as a channel to offer basic financial services. We created a chatbot for a little experiment called “CrediSencillo Peru”— you can check it out and even chat with our little robot here: goo.gl/5gJeQq
We are also working to understand how agricultural cooperatives might be able to better serve their farmer-members with on-lending or in-kind financial mechanisms with Cohort 7 alumni Aaron Sebesta, and his venture Axios Impact (axiosimpact.com). The idea is for an agricultural cooperative to be able to offer financing to its farmer-members by securing large collective loans on their behalf (with a better interest rate, hopefully). The cooperative could purchase the supplies the farmers need (like seeds/ machinery), and then manage the ‘repayment’ of the loan by simply deducting from the amount the farmer is paid after harvest, thereby saving the farmers the time and money associated with securing loans directly from financial institutions. Make sense? We are hoping to assess whether farmer co-ops in Peru might be interested in this, or something like it. Time is going by quickly, and we are pleased with our discoveries and grateful for the GSSE network, which has accelerated our learning considerably.