ENVision mobile: Financial inclusion for microentrepreneurs

We are building business management tools for low-income microentrepreneurs who primarily sell consumer goods in cash.

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Eligibility

  • I am not an employee of BNY Mellon, or an immediate family member of a BNY Mellon employee
  • I am over 18 years of age
  • My organization is incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or I have a partner that is incorporated and could accept funds on my behalf
  • I have already piloted my initiative and have some initial evidence of impact
  • My organization is headquartered and creating impact in the United States

Gender

  • Woman

Where are you making a difference?

California: Oakland (94607), Los Angeles (90033)

Focus Areas (required)

  • Business & Social Enterprise
  • Development & Prosperity

Date Started

December / 15 / 2017

Organization Type

  • for-profit

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

Budget

  • $250k - $500k

Website or social media URL(s) (optional)

http://www.envisionmobile.co

Twitter URL

http://www.twitter.com/ENVision_mobile

1.Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed.

Aneri is also the founder of ENVenture, an award-winning non-profit in Uganda that lends to microentrepreneurs to sell clean energy products. She developed ENVision to underwrite transactional data via the smart phone as ENVenture’s borrowers lacked a credit score. She learned, however, that microentrepreneurs in the U.S. face similar challenges, and decided to pilot in California given the lack of services and need for this locally. The Founding team's combined expertise of working with low income populations, technology, partnership and business development makes us a strong team to tackle financial inclusion for microenterprises in the U.S.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

In 2016, 40% of small businesses in the US were denied loans due to lack of loan-readiness. According to our interviews, most only operate in cash, record on pen and paper, and do not generate receipts. Most have never received formal training in important business concepts such as inventory management, accounting, operations, marketing, or sales and are unable to differentiate between revenue and profit, stalling business success.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

ENVision Mobile is an enterprise suite of mobile productivity tools for low-income microentrepreneurs who primarily sell consumer goods in cash; our application enables users to run their businesses easily on a daily basis. ENVision Mobile is a simple and intuitive accounting and business management application that operates on and offline for low-income microentrepreneurs, who generate less than $85,000 in revenue (not profit) per year and have less than 5 employees. ENVision Mobile’s main features currently are inventory management, sales tracking, ledger, and simple P&L reports. Since 45 Million Americans are without a credit score and 9 million households do not have bank accounts, our technology enables a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) to make faster data-driven decisions on loan applications, which normally takes weeks to approve. ENVision mobile is designed for the financially excluded and underserved population of American society – the 32 million people who work in formalized microenterprises that contribute up to 3 trillion into the US economy, and the millions of invisible workers in the informal economy.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of how your solution is working to solve the problem.

New to bookkeeping technology, microentrepreneurs like Tita who operates a jewelry street stall in San Francisco, will be able to understand how her business is performing without any accounting knowledge. For example, Tita approaches a microlender for a loan, and they request her to download our free mobile application. She simply takes photos of her inventory and enters the details of each item and her operational expenses. When she makes a sale, she enters the price sold at and inputs the customer’s details. Combining her business expenses with her daily sales entered, the app will track her revenue and cash flow. With Tita's permission, the lender has logged her phone number into their dashboard and can see her business traction in lieu of her non-existing credit score or business bank account, allowing the lender to underwrite based on her transactions.

5a. Too many people in the U.S. have unmet needs for financial products and services. How is your work reaching a population(s) that is currently underserved? If it is not reaching an underserved population yet, how might it in the near future?

Mobile apps are not currently serving the needs of microentrepreneurs in the U.S., who typically are immigrants, people of color, speak another language, and are struggling to get by. Our work is focused initially on supporting microentrepreneurs in cities, starting in Oakland and Los Angeles who have enormous microentrepreneur populations and finding nonprofit partners who are serving this community, either through programs or financial services to promote and utilize ENVision mobile.

5b. Please specify if the population you are reaching is underserved due to any of the following characteristics:

  • immigration status
  • work status
  • language
  • race/ethnicity
  • socio-economic class

6. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We believe that there is no existing solution that meets the clear needs of the users we are targeting. Our most similar competitor is Square from a payment and accounting perspective. However, the similarities are minimal. As Square’s revenue model is focused on credit card processing, they overlook the needs of an entire consumer base who do not accept nor want credit cards for their business. Our solution is designed for the financially illiterate, usable offline for data conscious customers, and will be a factor cheaper than other current SME cloud accounting solutions.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Currently we are in QA testing with a couple partners in Oakland and Los Angeles and currently have 100 Monthly Active Users. We will continue to measure the number of active users and retention along with unit sales, demand, revenue, growth and more. Measuring sales revenue and growth will allow us to understand if there are productivity gains from use that result in revenue growth. By recording each user's inventory, we can understand how profitability relates to product selection. We will also measure typical mobile app statistics like user engagement, cost per acquisition, revenue per user, etc. We will also be able to assess the wider beneficiaries impact by studying aggregated vendor and customer data and relationships between users. We will be applying machine learning to provide additional less obvious insights.

8a. Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling your impact?

Our team, all who have extensive experience working with microentrepreneurs globally, are excited to launch in an uncrowded fintech space focused on underserved people in the US who are struggling to make ends meet. Our tech is currently open source to spur innovation in this space and we see ourselves as a platform for third party developments to integrate products and services for microentrepreneurs. We are also interested in improving our technology through technology partnerships and APIs that can add bonus features for our users, such as savings, gamification, digital wallets, and more.

8b. If applicable, which of the following scaling strategies have you launched?

  • Open Sourcing

9. Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We are winners of the Vodafone Wireless Innovation Project receiving $100,000, and have raised $45,000 in outside grants. Through our dashboard, offered as a SaaS subscription service for CDFIs, branch managers, nonprofits, and Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies, microentrepreneurs will be able to access more services than ever before by providing valuable business insights to the stakeholders that have a vested interest in supporting and uplifting their businesses.

10. Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Our co-founding team is comprised of a CEO, CTO, and CFO. Aneri Pradhan, as CEO, has over 10 years of experience advising microenterprises and working on technology innovation for emerging markets. Eric Obeysakare, as CTO, is a PhD candidate at Penn State in Information Systems Technology and served in the Peace Corps and Fullbright Fellow. Nick McNally, as CFO, is a chartered Accountant with previous experience with Ernst & Young. We aim to recruit UX and customer success roles in the future.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 - Which of the following categories do you identify with? (optional)

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 - Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities? (optional)

  • Communities of color
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • Email

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