The rise and expansion of small and medium enterprises (SME) makes a tremendous impact and contribution to the social and economic development of a country. However, due to the size of the deals and the risk profile needed, there are still some limitations to investing in smaller SMEs or SMEs located in developing countries. The financing gap to better support these type of enterprises remains a challenge and entrepreneurs that hardly receive support from traditional forms of finance have to turn to alternative finance in order to obtain funding. Nevertheless in most of the cases, these entrepreneurs don’t have a clear idea of where to start looking for investors, or how to approach them and present the businesses in an attractive way, making this gap even wider and more difficult to close.
My role during the summer working in IESC addressed these type of challenges. My team and I guided SMEs in developing countries through the capital raising process and helped them become investor ready. From business plan to financial projections and information memorandums, we provided support tailored to the client needs that facilitated the investment transactions, making the entrepreneur’s life easier, letting her/him focus in the business while we took charge of all the steps in the investment process.
During the eleven weeks of my internship, I worked with several clients around the world. Two of them where located in Latin America. One of them was a solar panel business focusing in reducing the traditional energy consumption in residences and small-scale businesses. They were looking for a $6.5 million investment which we successfully helped them obtain. The second one was an agribusiness organization looking for refinancing their current debt. The company supported 35,000 low income small-holder farmers by providing financing as well as technical assistance for improving the quality of the crops and by giving them market access buying their product at fair prices.
This was the first time I interacted with social entrepreneurs in a professional way and it was a completely refreshing and exciting experience for me. I found extremely inspiring how passionate each of these entrepreneurs are and the amount of effort and work they put into their businesses. I really enjoyed being able to provide some guidance and help them convey their mission and passion to investors in order to take their businesses to the next level.
These months in I also had the opportunity to be part of an amazing organization and team. I worked with finance and international development experts but more importantly with mission-driven and motivated individuals always looking to have a positive impact and contributing to create a better world.
Thanks SIIF for giving me the opportunity to experience this!