(IGNIA) September 7, 2011 – Omidyar Network and IGNIA announced they are leading a $13.75 million Series B round of financing in Finestrella, a provider of innovative mobile telephony services to low-income and unbanked populations in Mexico. Finestrella will use the funding to rapidly expand the availability of its current offerings while developing new products and services, including smart phones and data plans that address the needs of its customers.
The Series B funding marks a renewed commitment from existing investor IGNIA, which led Finestrella’s Series A funding. The round also includes existing funders Bay Partners and Storm Ventures. Amy Klement, Vice President of Investments at Omidyar Network, will join IGNIA on Finestrella’s board of directors.
“There is strong evidence that expanding access to telecommunications can have massive social and economic benefits. Finestrella has developed a truly innovative model to do exactly that—enable greater access at significantly lower prices for the consumer,” said Klement. “Given the enormous customer need and the company’s strong value proposition, the model has the potential to quickly extend to many new geographies.”
Mobile telephony is a massive market in Mexico and Latin America, where the majority of people are forced to use costly prepaid services that require a substantial initial handset investment. Finestrella enables unbanked consumers to acquire affordable postpaid mobile plans without upfront costs or the requirement of a credit card or bank account. The company’s plans, offered in 10 cities across Mexico, reach over 40% of the country’s population. By providing a simple and affordable solution, Finestrella unlocks the full power of mobile communications for the base of the pyramid.
“What is truly compelling about Finestrella is its ability to serve a customer segment that is generally excluded from mainstream financial services,” said Alvaro Rodriguez, Managing Partner of IGNIA. “Finestrella provides an affordable means for low-income populations to access mobile offerings as well as establish a recorded payment history that itself can unlock additional opportunities.”
“Finestrella’s early growth is a clear demonstration of the need for affordable, high-quality telecommunication services,” said Gabriel Manjarrez, Co-Founder and CEO of Finestrella. “We are proud to add Omidyar Network to a group of investors that can provide the capital and expertise we need to scale and promote a truly disruptive offering that meets critical voice and Internet communications gaps in Mexico and beyond.”
Finestrella was founded in 2008 by Gabriel Manjarrez and Pedro Zayas in order to increase the accessibility of telecommunications services to the unbanked. The Company offers postpaid mobile plans to consumers without the requirement of a credit card, credit history, or upfront deposit. By removing the barriers to adoption of postpaid mobile services Finestrella increases the accessibility of mobile communications, including Internet access, to a population previously limited to expensive pay-as-you-go voice services. To learn more, visit www.finestrella.com.
About Omidyar Network
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $440 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including microfinance, property rights, consumer internet, mobile and government transparency. To learn more, visit www.omidyar.com.
IGNIA Fund I, L.P. is an impacting investing venture capital fund that supports the founding and expansion of high growth social enterprises that serve the base of the socio-economic pyramid in Latin America. By providing effective responses to the enormously underserved needs of low income populations, as consumers as well as productive agents in value-added supply chains, IGNIA empowers entrepreneurship and generates social impact while creating attractive financial returns for its investors. Representative current investments include Primedic, Pro-Organico, IGNIA Bienes Raíces, MexVi, Barafon and Aqua Natural. To learn more, visit www.ignia.com.mx.