For more than 5 years OUR MicroLending have been offering microloans and technical assistance for the unbanked; we have served as a link between financial services and low income areas with loans and savings, we have narrowed the gap between the community needs and financial services by creating economic opportunities for low income customers to build stronger communities.
Our main goal is to create financial solutions and assistance programs for distressed communities and underserved populations; today we are proud to announce that Our MicroLending has been certified as Community Development Financial Institutions (Certification granted by the CDFI Fund, a program from the US Treasury Department), which brings us the opportunity to expand and strengthen our services to reach more individuals and businesses in need.
We want to thank all the people involved in this process and invite them to continue working on the dream of building affordable credit alternatives with innovative solutions for an equal economic growth.
April 26 2013
A few days ago an article written by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance editor Janet Bodnar discussed about all the possibilities and ideas people have with an extra $1,000.00, from booking a trip to charities, preparing for natural disasters or buying stocks.
Here is a how to put that grand into achieving all those purposes while assisting others, a way to save that opens new possibilities and help create new jobs and supports community development. Some microfinance institutions around the world have launched investment programs where supporting people can put their money into small loans for microentrepreneurs, these programs work very well but do not guarantee the return on investment. This is called Peer to Peer Lending, the person willing to help chooses a person in other country to fund a loan; this methodology brings a high risk because is based on the repayment of the loan.
Following the same idea institutions like OUR MicroLending in the US have developed a similar investment opportunity, this time guarantee by the complete portfolio of their clients, which means the investors will deposit their money towards loans for a group of clients instead of just one, this lowers the risk on the investment.
Since the program started in 2012 Our MicroLending has received $674,000.00 on investment certificates, with an average loan of $9,400.00 they had disburse 72 microloans. 100% of the money invested is given to the approved borrowers that go thru the process and meet the conditions of collateral and paper work, this guarantee the return on investment.
As an answer to Jaten Bodnar’s article in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance What to Do With $1,000.00? an Our Investment Certificate can be an option where investing a grand can translate into over 9% in return for an 18 month certificate.
Con esto en mente, y revisando regulaciones que entraron en vigencia, hemos decidido hacer nuestro aporte y presentarles algunas consideraciones sobre la inclusión financiera, en este caso, dentro de la frontera de este gran país.
En días recientes el SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) amplió los criterios que utiliza para definir el tamaño de un small business.
Ahora bien, ¿se logra algo con esto? ¿Representa un avance en el desarrollo y recuperación de la economía de US? La respuesta para ambas dudas es un enfático NO.
Así las cosas, debemos señalar que definir el Small Business sólo puede tener un objetivo y es ampliar el acceso al crédito y la inclusión en el sistema financiero (en el caso de estudio, para estos negocios). El acceso al crédito permitirá ayudar a mejorar la economía del país, generando empleo, nuevos propietarios y, además, la mejora de las comunidades. La inclusión impacta la vida diaria de ese empresario que tiene un small business.
Una clasificación que ayuda a definir un small business según el SBA es el número de empleados. Kauffman Foundation señala que el 60% de los small business, tienen de uno a cuatro empleados, es decir, no son realmente small business son MICRO BUSINESSES.
En las legislaciones de Australia, Unión Europea y US, podemos ver que se entiende por small business:
Australia: Empresas de menos de 15 empleados.
EU: Empresas de menos de 50 empleados.
US: Empresas con un máximo de 1500 empleados, según si éstasse dedican al wholesaling o las manufacturas.
Clasificar las empresas por su número de empleados es tal vez lo más común, luego viene -como criterio de clasificación- la facturación.
El SBA dentro de sus standards nos hace ver que serán objeto de su ayuda las empresas que tengan menos de 1500 empleados o cuya facturación gire entre $500,000 y $21,500,000. Estaremos equivocados o es casi imposible que el 60% de los small businesses que son de menos de 4 empleados puedan facturar un mínimo de $500,000 al año.
La pregunta formal es: ¿Cumple una empresa de menos de cuatro empleados los requisitos exigidos por el SBA para acceder a su ayuda? La respuesta, nuevamente, NO.
Estas clasificaciones/definiciones, excluyen a casi el 60% de los small businesses.
Según el SBA en 1994, había 22,1 millones de small businesses que empleaban a 129,000,000 de personas. En otras palabras, 5,83 personas por negocio. Aquí me pregunto ¿cual era la finalidad de definir los small business así? Sería, tal vez, ¿dar una apariencia de ayuda que en realidad no existe?
Recordemos la premisa de la introducción, definir el Small Business sólo puede tener un objetivo y es ampliar el acceso al crédito y la inclusión en el sistema financiero.
Conclusión: La definición excluyó a una mayoría que por una razón u otra (desempleo, subempleo, autoempleo o esperanza de éxito) se armaron de valor para convertirse en emprendedores, buscando realizar, por necesidad o vocación, el sueño americano.
Usando la metodología anterior, podemos ver que micro business incluye a aquellas empresas que tienen:
Australia: 1 o 2 empleados.
EU: 1 a 6 empleados.
US: Menos de 10 empleados.
Esta clasificación es acertada, si esta fuera la utilizada por la legislación se permitiría el acceso al crédito de casi el 60% de los small businesses de USA.
Sobre el micro business, y sus figuras relacionadas se ha escrito mucho. Lo que más se conoce es el microcrédito.
La inmensa mayoría de las empresas que conocemos han comenzado como un microbusiness, ejemplos sobran: Ford, Apple, Windows, Facebook, entre otras.
Aproximadamente un 10% de los micro businesses pasan a ser small businesses, pero muy pocas llegan a ser grandes, como las mencionadas.
Necesidad de diferenciación
Es necesario diferenciar el small business del micro business. ¿Por qué? Muy sencillo, si queremos ayudar a la reactivación de la economía, si creemos en un país con igualdades, equitativo y de inclusión, es necesario darle la oportunidad a los más débiles. ¿Quienes son esos? las pequeñas empresas familiares, las que le fabrican y le llevan el pan hasta su casa, los que distribuyen víveres, las vendedoras de flores, los pequeños restaurantes, los camioneros, y un sin fin de personas que trabajan con esfuerzo cada día de sus vidas.
No es posible pensar que se puede reactivar una economía cuando se dejó de lado al 60% de los “mal” llamados small businesses. Recordemos si en 1994, eran el 60% de 129 millones se habría hablado de casi 78,000,000 de personas sin acceso a las ayudas. Llamamos ayudas a los grants, los créditos y en general el apoyo financiero.
Según el CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) la definición de microfinanzas consiste en una serie de servicios financieros. Como préstamos, ahorros, remesas y seguros, ofrecidos a la gente pobre que está excluida del sistema financiero formal (el resaltado es nuestro).
Ante la definición expuesta nos atrevemos a eliminar la palabra “pobre”, pues la exclusión abarca un número mucho mayor de personas y, sorprendentemente, de empresas.
¿En qué estriba esta declaración? En que la mayoría de las personas están excluidas del sistema financiero formal. Tener una cuenta de ahorros -lo más elemental del sistema financiero- no implica estar bancarizado y mucho menos atendido. Inclusión implica -necesariamente- tener acceso al crédito y a los servicios financieros.
Las exigencias para acceder a los servicios que impone el sistema financiero llevan al excluido a buscar servicios financieros informales que suelen ser más costosos y menos confiables.
Así mismo, el CGAP identificó siete causas de exclusión financiera: 1.- Geográfica, 2.- Social y de marketing, 3.- Procesal, 4.- Barreras de precio, 5.- Producto y servicio, 6.- Autoexclusión, y 7.- Exclusión Inducida.
Esta última, la exclusión inducida es la que, sin intención, está generando la clasificación establecida por el SBA, pues la inmensa mayoría de los small businesses de menor perfil no están siendo incluidos y mucho menos apoyados.
La idea es incluir, nunca excluir, no importa nuestra raza, sexo o educación, todos debemos ser incluidos.
Inclusion Financiera Responsable
El párrafo anterior nos lleva a una novedosa idea: La Inclusión Financiera Responsable. Durante la reunión del G20 en Toronto (Junio 2010), se desarrolló el conjunto de Principios para la Inclusión Financiera Innovadora (Principles for Innovative Financial Inclusion).
Estos principios se definieron porque el simple acceso al crédito o al servicio financiero no es suficiente y cuando el usuario no lo comprende bien puede acarrear errores como los del los créditos de la hipotecas subprime en Estados Unidos, el escándalo de los pagos de seguros de protección de salario en Inglaterra y la crisis de los microcréditos en India.
La Inclusión Financiera Responsable es la respuesta, esa que la Secretaria Clinton ha definido como “Smart Power”, esa política que contribuye a la estabilidad y crecimiento a largo plazo, esa es la clave de la inclusión.
Estados Unidos es líder, a nivel internacional, en la inclusión financiera como política de Estado, sin embargo, también debe ser una política a nivel interno. Para lograr esto se necesita un compromiso político sostenido.
La inclusión debe dejar el tubo de ensayo académico y bajar al mundo político y económico. Esa será la única manera de lograr desarrollo económico sostenido para los excluidos de hoy.
El principal valor de la inclusión financiera responsable viene iluminar a la gente para entender que tiene la capacidad de elegir el futuro que realmente quieren vivir. (The main value of responsible financial inclusion comes from enlightening people to understand that they have capacity to choose the future they really want to live. It is the most efficient promoter of free Enterprise and spirit of entrepreneurship).
Es fundamental, para impulsar la economía y generar riqueza, hacer una diferenciación clara entre small y micro business, dedicándole a estos últimos una importante dosis de apoyo financiero.
Nuestra propuesta es promover una legislación que estimule la creación y el desarrollo de la microempresa y del microcrédito como fórmula de obtener una Inclusión Financiera Responsable. Es importante aclarar que por microempresa implica menos de 10 personas y por microcrédito se debe entender montos inferiores a $ 30,000.
Estimado lector, recuerde, el microfinanciamiento permite a los pobres y excluidos proteger, diversificar y aumentar sus fuentes de ingresos, ruta esencial para salir de la pobreza y el hambre.
Ask any first-year medical student what’s most important about diagnosing patients and they’ll often say: history and symptoms. You don’t have to be a 30-year professional to know that asking the right questions helps avoid unnecessary (and costly) testing and quickly narrows the focus to ensure the best diagnosis possible.
But when it comes to micro-business and microfinance, the US patient is sick, and the primary doctor, the Small Business Administration, hasn’t diagnosed very well over the last 25 years, nor are the organization’s recent changes likely to benefit micro businesses either.
Last month, after a half decade re-work, 37 new changes to the SBA guidelines for small business government-backed loans went into effect. The result, according to a recent Huffington Post article, means that some 8,350 more firms are now eligible for loans and other government assistance or can compete for federal contracts. That certainly sounds good for our struggling economy.
But greater eligibility is like changing the definition of what qualifies as “middle class.” Suppose that the middle class is defined as those making a household income of $50,000- $100,000, and then you lower the income threshold to $25,000. Does this really increase the spending power of families that now fall within that range? Of course not; aside from boosting self esteem, it has zero impact.
Changing a paper definition for small businesses, as the SBA has done, is equally ineffective and doesn’t get at the root of the problem: financial inclusion. Sure the SBA distributed $30.5 billion in loans last year to 60,000 small businesses—and more are now eligible—but how many are really “micro-businesses” and do we really expect them to compete for federal contracts?
Micro-businesses are the bread bakers delivering to your homes. They are the dry cleaners, flower shops, tiny restaurants, self-employed truckers and other entrepreneurs who work just as hard as everyone else.
Micro-finance, like plankton, represents the bottom of the financial food chain, but it is similarly no less vital to the larger economy. Revitalized micro-businesses reinvest in communities and turn the blighted into something brilliant. As a neighborhood rebuilds, its momentum increases and gentrification follows. Once a city rediscovers its own forgotten streets, it’s only a matter of time before a region and then a country takes notice.
But that optimism begins at the micro level – not with a $25,000 loan, but with a small leg-up that can range from $500 to $5,000. You would be surprised how much these microloans can mean.
“Small” and “micro” businesses must truly be distinct, and the SBA can only do so much. Sixty percent of micro-companies—more than 13 million—do not meet the current minimum threshold to receive SBA funding or traditional bank lending. In the view of micro lenders like us, state and federal legislation should be introduced that stimulates the creation and development of micro-enterprises and of micro-credit to help these businesses better compete. “Micro business” should be defined as companies with six or fewer employees and “micro credit” defined as loans less than $25,000.
The micro-business patient has spoken. The SBA must check its patient history and our elected leaders must act.
By Emilio Santandreu, CEO, OUR MicroLending
This week we published on our website: "OUR MicroLending LLC’s Reg.A qualification on December 23rd by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to sale up to $5,000,000 Unsecured Investment Certificates (Certificates)”. The question is: Why are we doing this? Which is the purpose of selling that much in Certificates?
To accomplish OUR’s Mission statement of providing microcredits to Microbusinesses or unbanked entrepreneurs, we need a steady and permanent flow of funds to meet our demand, thus continued helping micro-entrepreneurs through our microloan program. This demand has been bigger than what we have expected given that the funds available from our shareholders, friends and relatives were not enough to cover our demand.
Such opportunity forced us to look for different alternatives to fund the loans. Therefore, we found that through a Regulation (A) Offering Statement under the Securities Act of 1933, and once the filed Form1-A is qualified by the SEC, we could sell up to $5,000,000 in Investment Certificates starting in the minimum amount of $1,000 with the maturities and the interest rate that have been established in the Offering Circular.
Thinking besides our needs and considering that there are different sizes of investors looking for new alternatives, for high social impact investment, or socially responsible investments with reasonable or risk adequate yields, we decided that: The Certificates will be offered in the minimum amount of $1,000, and in multiples of $100. The Certificates will have maturities of 6 to 18 months from the date issued, with a fixed interest rate depending on the term and based on a formula tied to the Treasury Bill ( See he Offering Circular).
With such characteristics, these securities offer four important advantages: 1) small investment (almost like saving); 2) adequate rate of return or yield versus its risk; 3) high social impact and 4) an Offering Statement Qualified by the SEC.
We strongly believe that with this new alternative we would meet the needs of our borrowers, offer an alternative investment for those interested in socially responsible investments and accomplish company’s Values, which is “We believe in lending and investing money combining ethic and financial goals, where a socially responsible investment can finance economic activities with a positive social impact, while obtaining a fair and reasonable profit”
And this is why we did it…we invite you to invest with us at www.ourmicrolending.com
See qualification letter below.
In the past two years a lot has happened to the economy, there have been ups and downs that have affected thousands, some of them have lost their homes, their jobs or even their businesses; this situation had also caused some credit score damage for several people or has not allowed others to establish their credit history; at this point and being a socially responsible institution OUR MicroLending has come up with the idea that we have to do more to help the community, we have to honor our commitment of opening doors to the future, and make our mission work in favor of those that need us the most.
After a brief planning and making our staff part of the process we came up with an alternative solution for those who need that first push toward building their credit or reestablishing it; this alternative will allow everyone to secure a loan with their own cash while having a convenient term to pay it back at an adequate interest rate.
We are confident that this product will help people get back on their feet, allow those that need to start building their credit history to start on their right foot, and make a better community.
Clients must be 18 or older, and a citizen or resident of the US; the loans range between $1,500 and $5,000 in terms of 6 to 12 months with no prepayment penalties, applying is stress-free and the requirements are really easy to meet.
Visit our web site for more information.
Here is a little bit of all that I have heard in the past year; since I started working on the microfinance field there are many concepts and differences one should be able to understand that is confusing, even the regulating organisms have some issues in defining and making differences among the concepts. Many conversations have taken place in the past 10 years about the fact of microfinance being an important way of helping the poor, but does a microfinance institution have to be non for profit to have a social impact? Or it is necessary to be profitable to keep helping as much microentrepreneurs as possible? In my own thoughts, if an institution either for profit or not wants to grow, expand, help more people, and be stable it have to have a way of paying its bills and obligations as well as serving more clients. Managing a financial institution should not be confused with charity, the idea is to help people to be successful not to give them a present to solve their problems one time only, the philosophy is to teach them how to work their finances and get out poverty for good, not to solve an issue one time and then make them be supported by the institution. When microentrepreneurs ask for a loan for their businesses they are looking for support and a way to make their businesses grow, for them it does not matter if the institution is for profit or not, they understand that they need the money and they are happy to pay it, they know any business has expenses and the microfinance institutions are no exception. Another topic of many discussions is the differences between small businesses and microbusinesses, a microfinance institution is that what its mission is to bring services to those unattended by banks, the ones that have a tiny establishment usually with less than 10 employees and a huge need of a very little amount to solve an issue, small business loans are for those that have bigger business and normally the amounts are way heavier; in my own opinion, and even being the necessities the same in different scales, we should never generalize when talking and serving small businesses and microbusinesses. There are two different markets and two different methodologies, there are differences in the amounts to be lend, the requirements, and the condition; even the way of approaching the clients is very different, so why putting all in the same bag? This industry has the potential of impacting many communities and help countries fight poverty, but there is a lot to be said and done, starting with clarifying concepts and defining markets. Melina Santandreu Marketing Director OUR MicroLending
Here is a little bit of all that I have heard in the past year; since I started working on the microfinance field there are many concepts and differences one should be able to understand that is confusing, even the regulating organisms have some issues in defining and making differences among the concepts.
Many conversations have taken place in the past 10 years about the fact of microfinance being an important way of helping the poor, but does a microfinance institution have to be non for profit to have a social impact? Or it is necessary to be profitable to keep helping as much microentrepreneurs as possible?
In my own thoughts, if an institution either for profit or not wants to grow, expand, help more people, and be stable it have to have a way of paying its bills and obligations as well as serving more clients. Managing a financial institution should not be confused with charity, the idea is to help people to be successful not to give them a present to solve their problems one time only, the philosophy is to teach them how to work their finances and get out poverty for good, not to solve an issue one time and then make them be supported by the institution.
When microentrepreneurs ask for a loan for their businesses they are looking for support and a way to make their businesses grow, for them it does not matter if the institution is for profit or not, they understand that they need the money and they are happy to pay it, they know any business has expenses and the microfinance institutions are no exception.
Another topic of many discussions is the differences between small businesses and microbusinesses, a microfinance institution is that what its mission is to bring services to those unattended by banks, the ones that have a tiny establishment usually with less than 10 employees and a huge need of a very little amount to solve an issue, small business loans are for those that have bigger business and normally the amounts are way heavier; in my own opinion, and even being the necessities the same in different scales, we should never generalize when talking and serving small businesses and microbusinesses.
There are two different markets and two different methodologies, there are differences in the amounts to be lend, the requirements, and the condition; even the way of approaching the clients is very different, so why putting all in the same bag?
This industry has the potential of impacting many communities and help countries fight poverty, but there is a lot to be said and done, starting with clarifying concepts and defining markets.
Today we want to congratulate him and his family for completing this important step on his education, we are sure he is going to conquer many more adventures because that is how he sees life.
Don Alfonso, thank you for letting us being part of this, we are very proud of Nico,
OUR MicroLEnding Staff
For the past six month Our MicroLending has walked the path of growth and has brought new faces to the team; we take this opportunity to introduce you to the most recent member of OUR family, an individual who has brought a fresh perspective, experience and has reinforced OUR mission as a company, someone with a deep understanding of microfinance and an extensive awareness of the needs of micro-entrepreneurs.
Please join us in welcoming William Mateo; more than 13 years of business development and managerial experience in the field describe him as one of the best microfinance professionals in the state of Florida.
Want to know a little bit more about his experience?
Here is his bio: As the former Regional Director at ACCION USA in Miami, FL; he oversaw Florida’s marketing, communications and lending operations and was also responsible for the quality of the loan portfolio. During his leadership, The AUSA microloan program became the largest micro lender in the State of Florida by disbursing over 1,718 loans totaling over $10 million in Florida’s underserved communities, helping to create or maintain approximately 2,900 jobs in the area. Prior to joining ACCION USA in Miami in 2003, Mr. Mateo worked for ACCION first as a Team Leader in New York where he successfully developed their microloan program in Queens, NY.
Today William Mateo is OUR Business Development VP and a valued member of the team that makes financial inclusion possible for those underserve by regular banking.
Welcome William, and thanks for being part of our social responsibility.