Portfolio Partner Profile
Advance Global Capital
The Advance Global Capital, Ltd (AGC) is an open-ended fund that provides debt financing to non-bank financial institutions ("NBFIs") that offer factoring or invoice discounting services to small and medium enterprises ("SMEs"). The Fund's strategy is based on the premise that SMEs, particularly those in developing countries, have a significant unmet need for financing. A second premise is that invoice factoring is uniquely suited to address this problem because it transfers credit risk from small, harder-to-finance businesses to the larger companies that buy their products.
Featured Impact Story
Elena has been able to adapt and thrive.
Elena, matriarch and founder of La Esperanza (‘Hope’), is no stranger to the need to adapt. As a young widow raising three children, Elena combined her high school education with sheer grit and determination to launch her first company, which quickly grew to employ 300 people. When Ecuador’s 1998 currency crisis caused the Sucre to plunge in value, she was forced to shut down, but continued to plan for the day she could resume operations.
A few years later, Elena relaunched her company, La Esperanza. She began by working with a few ‘manquillas’ (home-based workers). Over the years the company has evolved to have diverse production and sales channels, allowing it to adapt to changing conditions. In addition to selling children’s clothing to department stores, La Esperanza sells online and through a few small stores. The majority of production occurs in her factory, where 160 people (80% of whom are women) are employed, but Elena’s team also provides work to around 200 women working in rural manquillas across the country. Beyond commercial activities, La Esperanza runs a community outreach program in partnership with a state agency.
Elena has once again proven her ability to adapt during the COVID-19 crisis. Due to pandemic restrictions, she had to temporarily shutter her factory. To keep business moving forward, Elena obtained a certificate that allows her to go to her factory to cut fabric for new orders and deliver it to her staff. While she cannot interact with department store customers in person, Elena maintains her decades-long relationships with them over the phone. With the help of Elena’s son, Juan Costa, the company has also expanded its product line and landed a contract to create PPE for Ecuador’s frontline workers.
La Esperanza is not immune to the effects of the pandemic, but Elena’s efforts have gone a long way. Since late May, only 10 employees have been laid off. Online store activity has increased, and the PPE contract has brought in $150,000 in new sales. With AGC’s local financial partner by her side, Elena has been able to expertly navigate continually changing markets. Factoring has offered her business a backbone of stability, enabling La Esperanza to quickly respond to demand.
Despite the flux of economies, currencies, and pandemics, Elena has been able to adapt and thrive. Rooted in her desire to support her family and the families of other women, Elena continues run her business with the belief that workers matter, standards should be high, and weathering uncertainty stems from relationships that uphold trust and hope.
Required Credits: Advance Global Capital Ltd
Austrofood - A Sustainable, Sweet Business that Thinks Locally and Delivers Globally
Austrofood, an Ecuadorian fruit producer, has shown tremendous resilience and innovation, successfully pursing both commercial and social impact goals throughout the pandemic. Founded 12 years ago in northern Ecuador by Santiago and Francisco Peña, the brothers began by purchasing land called Las Esmereldas. They selected the region both for the ideal climate and the opportunity to create a positive impact through stable employment for the local community. Since planting the first trees ten years ago, Austrofood has acquired 120 hectares and employs 80 people on the farm, in addition to another 80 people at the production plant in Quito. About one-third of the staff are women. They also offer their employees paid time off.
At the end of 2019, Austrofood started to sell into the US market. However, 2020 was a difficult year to expand into the US. AGC’s local financial partner started financing Austrofood’s invoices around the same time, and reliable access to working capital has been key to expanding their business into new markets so they knew they could cover bills for raw materials, staff, and processing expenses. The company is optimistic, as Santiago sees things starting to move again in 2021. Austrofood has also closed new deals with Spanish and German supermarket chains. According to Santiago, “Our team has put in hard work, and we have high hopes for 2021 and beyond.”
Gender Smart Growth for Small Businesses in Central Europe
Poland has long been known as a nation of hard-working entrepreneurs since it’s transition to a market economy in the 1990s. However, factors that drove growth in the past, such as labor cost advantages and strong traditional industries, are now losing momentum. One promising source of growth is closing the gender gap in the workplace.
AGC provides inclusive financing and positive impact across multiple stakeholders in Poland to help drive smart, economic growth during difficult times. One of AGC’s financing partners is a women-led, tech-driven company that provides personal attention and affordable short-term funding to small businesses like VOne, a specialty chemical business. AGC’s partner helps VOne achieve critical speed with quick, reliable access to working capital. In Poland, VOne has multiple product lines, including an environmentally friendly concrete cleaning agent. Mateusz, the owner of VOne, says, “We’re seeing strong demand for these types of products that are better for nature.” Mateusz provides not only the products, but also training to help his customers safely use the products. He has five full-time staff and supervises dozens of workers in the production sites, so is always on the go. As Mateusz puts it, “In my work, I’m spending a lot of time in the car because I have meetings with clients in different parts of Poland. AGC’s partner has an easy interface. I can upload my invoices on the road and the money comes to me very fast, so I can have the power to pay staff when I need to, instead of waiting 30 days or more to get paid.”
Financing Essential Services and Social Mobility
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many childcare centers closed and education shifted to remote schooling. In Colombia, most schools closed in March of 2020. With support from AGC’s financing partner, Fundación La Santisima Trinidad (FST) was able to continue its work addressing societal challenges. Established in 2010, FST provides early childhood care for 800 children, career training for their mothers and support for 50 seniors, as well as supports 30 at-risk youth. They employ 169 people, over 80% of whom are women. Despite strong demand from the local community, the economic downturn in 2020 has hindered their ability to deliver essential services. For much of the year, FST could only offer modified programming to comply with local health directives, but they continued to do their best to serve the community.
FST works with AGC’s local financing partner, a female-led, tech-driven factoring company led by founder and CEO Alexandra. Dedicated to delivering working capital to small businesses and making lasting contributions to society, Alexandra’s factoring company delivers positive financial returns and social impact. Ultimately, Alexandra’s support not only provides FST with flexible financial terms, but also hope. Divina from FST states, “I’m very optimistic for the future. I feel hopeful about the next six to 12 months. We’re anticipating the government asking us to increase our services moving forward. We know we provide good, essential services that are hugely impacting our community. Thanks to support from AGC’s partner, we’re able to further support the lives of those who need it most.”
Olivado directly and indirectly impacts the lives of more than 11,000 people
Olivado, the foremost producer of avocado oil worldwide, originally began farming and production in New Zealand in 2000. By 2006, it established operations in Central Kenya — now one of the most productive exporters of avocado oil and fresh avocado fruit in the world. By April 2019, it will have opened additional operations in Tanzania, rounding out its presence in 33 countries. Like most food manufacturers who depend on a vast farmer network, Olivado was plagued by a lack of adequate cash flow resulting from mismatched payables and receivables. To create a more sustainable business for itself and its suppliers, Olivado partnered with one of AGC’s financial partners, a leader in innovative and inclusive SME financing in Africa, to improve its cashflow management and support its suppliers. AGC’s partner pays small holder avocado farmers cash on-delivery via their supply chain finance platform where the buyer has uploaded an approved supplier invoice into the system. On day 60, the partner collects the nominal invoice value plus interest and charges from Olivado – matching its expected receivables from its customers and relieving cash flow pressure along the supply chain and thus strengthening everyone in the supply chain from the farmer to the final retailer of avocado products. Olivado directly and indirectly impacts the lives of more than 11,000 people in its local communities where its own staff and contracted farmers live. Women represent 43% of their contracted farmers and 40% of their own workforce and hold significant positions in the senior ranks of the firm.
Local, independent providers that understand entrepreneurs’ needs
For nearly 25 years, Sunita Patel has been successfully managing Dubai-based Vasoya Trading Co L.L.C., one of the leading stockists and traders of electrical accessories for control panels and switchgears in Dubai. After completing her master’s degree in India 1997, Sunita moved to Dubai and joined her family’s small import business. However, given her entrepreneurial spirit, she branched out on her own two years later. Since starting her business, Sunita has gone from importing three items to importing over 800. Her business, called Vasoya, employs a team of four and stands committed to quality, timely, and fairly-priced products.
As part of Sunita’s commitment to her small business’ success, she oversees nearly every aspect of her organization. Her business supplies to local infrastructure projects, supporting local economic growth and modernization.
However, when the market dips, small businesses such as Vasoya are often the first to feel the negative effects, as customers extend payment terms and banks curtail lending to small businesses. According to Sunita, “When the economy started facing difficult times, lending conditions became extremely rigid.” She faced high rates and minimums and had to wait longer than she could afford to.
Fortunately, Advance Global Capital’s (AGC’s) local funding partner is providing Vasoya with flexible capital, which is known as factoring. Benefits such as a one-time documentation process, and a 24-hour window between requesting and receiving funds enabled Sunita to keep her company competitive. “I’ve been working with AGC’s partner for seven months. At the beginning, I thought it would be a temporary way to give my company a boost to launch new products and ensure longer sustainability. I thought I would have banks to fall back on. Now, I don’t even entertain the idea of applying for funding from banks.”
Factoring from local, independent providers that understand entrepreneurs’ needs can often be a lifeline to small, women-owned businesses. Funneling capital into underserved businesses also stimulates revenue and strengthens local financial ecosystems – especially important in uncertain times.
Required Credits: Advance Global Capital Ltd