Harnessing Student Potential In Microfinance
IMPULSO is a social business venture, supported by the NGO Aliança Empreendedora, that started in 2006 providing Microcredit to low income entrepreneurs, and has already supported more than 200 business. The mission of IMPULSO is to “Make the dreams of micro entrepreneurs and low income productive groups real and sustainable by providing methodological support and low cost capital to develop their businesses”.
IMPULSO provides credit to “bottom of the pyramid” entrepreneurs and, in addition, provides training and access to distribution channels trought its partners SAGA and SOLIDARIUM. The organization’s aim to offer 360° support to micro entrepreneurs (supplying credit, training and giving access to big retailers) is a major uniqueness. But the truly innovative idea of IMPULSO was the creation of a dynamic website that serves as platform to link the savings to the ones that need money to fuel their business. In the website you can find photos, videos, the story and some information about the entrepreneur and his/her business. Anyone can invest in one of these entrepreneurs and, by doing that, the person becomes an “angel investor”.
Visitors of Impulso’s online marketplace are able to browse micro-enterprises in need of support, with investment minimums set at R$25 (around US$ 15). The user-friendly website highlights the amount of money each project is requesting; capital raised to date; business information; and videos and photos of the enterprise and its products. The Angels Investors monitor the progress of their investment and track repayments online. Once a loan is repaid, angel investors can redirect the amount of money to another enterprise.
The main challenge of IMPULSO nowadays is to provide complete support to microentrepreneurs with quality and keep the operation sustainable. In Brazil we have many organizations that provide microlending to low-risk microentrepreneurs, meaning, those who already run well functioning businesses. Impulso, however, helps start-ups with great business ideas, but no money or know-how at all.
In three years, Impulso has supported more than 200 micro-enterprises throughout Brazil, with 91% surviving beyond the startup phase. The monthly incomes of Impulso loan recipients has increased an average of 196%, with 97% of loans repaid. Impulso has benefited from high visibility partners, such as Santander Bank and WalMart, both of which have of invested in its loan fund. Impulso has set a goal of reaching 3,000 low-income entrepreneurs by 2014.