CALIFORNIA — New fintech Asenso Finance has launched its equity crowdfunding campaign on Wefunder.com to engage retail investors in empowering underserved small business communities in the United States. This inclusive fintech aims to link community banks with small business owners to help them access the capital they need.
Asenso Finance is a portfolio startup of Talino Venture Labs, an award-winning global venture studio that builds impact-driven fintech for a sustainable and inclusive future. The startup is raising a total of $1M at a $15M pre-money valuation. Early investors can take advantage of Early Bird terms: the first $300k will invest in a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) with a $12M pre-money valuation cap and 20% discount.
One out of every two small business loans in the United States are unprovided or underprovided, or an estimated 7.3 million loans out of 13.6 million small business loan applications in 2021.
To address this capital gap, Asenso Finance has designed a lending-as-a-service solution to help more community banks and community development financial institutions (CDFI) scale their operations, enabling them to offer small business loans at affordable rates.
By digitizing the loan servicing process for community banks and CDFIs, Asenso Finance simplifies the loan application process for small business owners. This enables community banks and CDFIs to serve more small business owners in need of capital while reducing banks’ operational costs
“Small businesses have suffered immense challenges during the pandemic. Asenso Finance is designed to help community banks and CDFIs help them, through a combination of award-winning technology and deep industry expertise,” said Keny Chang, CEO of Asenso Finance.
“Building products that leverage technology to solve the world’s problems is at Asenso Finance’s core. We believe that time to value is vitally important so we’ve created a solution that can be made available to a banking partner in a matter of hours,” he added.
Tom Fisher, Executive Director and Advisor of Asenso Finance, shared his perspective as a former eBay CTO and leading enterprise innovator: “Asenso’s solutions are designed to give our customers, the retail banking industry and CDFI participants, the technological and operational capability they need to scale their lending operations digitally.”
Regarding their equity crowdfunding campaign, Winston Damarillo, chairman of Asenso Finance said, “We are making Asenso Finance accessible to retail investors who believe in the enormous potential of American small businesses. For as little as $100, investing in Asenso Finance can help small businesses rebuild, recover, and dream even bigger.”
Asenso Finance’s Secret Sauce: The Social Borrowing Circle
Asenso Finance is bringing back the “community” to community lending through a peer-to-peer structure called The Social Borrowing Circle. This was inspired by the Grameen Bank model, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning model that makes capital more accessible to micro, small, and medium enterprises.
The Grameen Bank model relies on each member of the Social Borrowing Circle to fulfill their repayment obligations. This fosters a strong social incentive for members to pay their loans, and has been proven to achieve higher repayment rates. Ultimately, this model enables community banks and CDFIs to deliver zero-collateral loans to underserved and unprovided communities, including small business owners.
Asenso Finance’s version of the model lets small business owners apply for a loan in groups of five through a digital social borrowing circle. What makes this model unique is each member of the circle receives their loan at the same time. They guarantee each other's loans and remind each other to make their monthly payments on time. In contrast, traditional social borrowing circles often require members to pay their share each month while waiting for several months to receive their loan. With Asenso Finance's model, borrowers are guaranteed to get their loan amount sooner than traditional social borrowing circles.
Fisher added, "We are so excited to bring social circles to the banking industry! We believe it helps mitigate the risk usually identified in lending and, at the same time, develops the community required to share the burden."
Moreover, Chang said, “Borrowers with low credit scores can take advantage of a Social Borrowing Circle to improve their credit record. This is a crucial credit-building tool for small business owners, helping improve their credit score to qualify for future loans.”
Damarillo added, “With this mechanism in place, Asenso Finance is helping small businesses transition from expensive credit card-funded loans to formal bank loans.”
Equity Crowdfunding: Enabling Retail Investors to Support Asenso Finance's Mission
Equity crowdfunding, also known as regulation crowdfunding, reduces some of the barriers to acquiring equity in companies. This was made possible through the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012, which sought to help smaller businesses attract investments beyond traditional banks and venture capital firms. It gave businesses the chance to raise capital from their family, friends, and local communities.
Today, early-stage companies and startups use equity crowdfunding to raise capital by advertising and offering securities to any investor over the age of 18. Through online platforms such as Wefunder, people can instantly explore and invest in different equity crowdfunding campaigns that they believe in.
“Equity crowdfunding is in line with Asenso's mission to empower small business owners. It levels the investment playing field and engages more retail investors to support disruptive ventures such as Asenso Finance,” said Damarillo.
Asenso Finance is leveraging this opportunity to engage its partners, clients, stakeholders, and supporters in investing early and being a part of the company’s growth. Its lead investor is Buck Jordan, managing partner at Wavemaker Labs, a company that supports the development of innovative technology that helps businesses grow.
“Asenso has assembled an excellent team to capitalize on this large market opportunity. I believe fintechs like Asenso are vital to the recovery of small businesses across America, and I’m so excited to be an investor to drive its growth and momentum,” said Jordan. The funds raised will be used for technology R&D and working capital as Asenso Finance expands its footprint in the United States.
Asenso is a lending-as-a-service firm that provides the technology and the operations to help community banks scale digitally. Replicating best-practice models from emerging markets, Asenso offers a highly scalable and secure digital solution that enables banks to administer low interest loans to help small businesses—the backbone of the American economy—rebuild, recover, and dream even bigger. Participate in Asenso Finance’s equity crowdfunding campaign by visiting https://wefunder.com/asenso.