Shivani Siroya, CEO and founder of Inventure, a microfinance based investment platform, could not have arrived to Chile on a more highly anticipated day. Tireless after a 3:00am landing, she spent her first day in the South American country living the ferver of Start-Up Chile’s official launch on January 13th, 2011.
Armed with a BA in Economics and Government, and a Masters in Health Economics and Policy, she wasted no time getting to work. In Chile to develop Inventure, Siroya explains that the organization, which is only a year old, is “focused on the next step of microfinance– connecting investors to micro-business owners for the purpose of expanding already existing micro-businesses, helping reach peoples’ true potential and creating jobs for communities.” The investors, she adds, are “everyday people who are interested in providing large or small amounts of capital for businesses in the form of investments instead of loans,” for as little as $25. In turn, the capital invested is repaid once the business generates revenues and can be reinvested once a profit is achieved. Siroya points out that because they are investing money instead of loaning it, the investors are less focused on obtaining a return and more on the creative side of business growth.
One of the most innovative and useful aspects of Inventure is the mobile network they have created that fosters trilateral communication between the investors, Inventure organizers, and the individual businesspeople. Via SMS messages, Inventure receives daily updates regarding the individuals’ progress in terms of expenses, costs, and personal spending and, in return, a detailed income statement is sent back to them everyday in hopes that they will simultaneously learn to maintain a viable financial equilibrium. The investments are generally utilized in medical, textile, tile, and food businesses which are, as Inventure describes, sectors that have the highest job creation potential during the investment term.
Her plan for Inventure’s six month participation in the Start-Up Chile program is clearly delineated. “We are starting a pilot program in Chile– we are already present in India, Mexico, Ghana, and Mali– and are looking to find organizations to partner with” says Siroya. In addition, she states: “we believe that local organizations know most about the communities in which they work and we would like to start working with their clients and help transition them from debt into the investment process.” According to Inventure’s calculations, three or more jobs have been created by each business that has received investment and mobile support, a tremendous achievement that echos their goals of “empowering the least fortunate people of the world, and helping them create jobs for their own communities.”
During the year Inventure has been in existence, they have been the focus of praise and recognition having won the LA TechCrunch competition, been selected as semi-finalists in the Echoing Green Competition and in the Unreasonable Institute, an accelerator program for social enterprises that will effect the lives of 1million or more people, for which they must raise $8,000USD to attend. And, along with being chosen as one of the top 50 startups in the Global Entrepreneurship Week competition, Inventure has presented at the International Microfinance and Impact Innovation Conference and will be presenters at the inaugural LATAM Impact Investment Forum in February of 2011.