(Press Release – SEAF) SEAF Colombia Agribusiness Fund, DFC and USAID invested in Puntored, a Colombia-based fintech providing services such as payments, credit, remittances and airtime through mobile apps and a network of small retailers.
The SEAF Colombia Agribusiness Fund (SCAF), in conjunction with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the SEAF COVID-19 Global Gender Lens Emergency Loan Finance, and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), have invested in Puntored, a pioneer Colombian fintech company established in 2005 and recognized in the region for providing financial, non-financial, and data solutions through its Open Finance Platform. With this support, Puntored is reaching more than 9 million under-banked people each month, maintaining a strong presence in rural and hard-to- reach areas in Colombia and providing financial inclusion and opportunities for socio-economic development.
SCAF is an impact investing fund which hosts private and public investors including Finagro, Skandia, private Colombian investors and an agreement of collaboration between USAID and SEAF, all of which seek triple bottom line returns for the development of the underserved and rural communities of Colombia. DFC supports part of the investment by providing additional funding to small- and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries struggling with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jim Polan, DFC’s Vice President of the Office of Development Credit, said, “DFC is proud to support SEAF’s investment in Puntored, which will advance financial inclusion and economic growth in rural Colombia. DFC’s support for the SEAF COVID-19 Global Gender Lens Emergency Loan Finance facility provides emergency funding to small businesses looking to grow, with a focus on empowering women in the economy.”
For SEAF, “Puntored embodies the energy and outstanding talent of young Colombian entrepreneurs who are conscious of their responsibility in contributing to a more equitable society. Their minds and spirits make us proud. Puntored makes us proud.”
Puntored´s network of over 75,000 shopkeepers and small businesses offers financial services to under-banked people in rural and isolated communities throughout Colombia. Its innovative Open Finance platform and digital mobile application have significantly contributed to the socio-economic development of these communities by providing financial inclusion and accessibility.
In addition to creating its unparalleled network of shopkeepers who act as bank correspondents, Puntored has developed alliances with Colombia’s major financial institutions, other fintech companies and suppliers of goods and services, connecting them with more than 9 million people who use their connections each month. Puntored´s network of shopkeepers covers 92% of the country´s municipalities and hard-to-reach rural areas, including PDET regions, in the course of rebuilding their post-conflict social tissue, enabling the growth of underserved people and independent businesses.
Puntored, with its network of “tiendas” or small shops has become the Colombian government´s primary vehicle for distributing COVID-19 pandemic subsidies and aid programs to millions of people in remote regions, who would otherwise not have had access to such income. Additionally, Puntored’s offer has become a key channel for remittances and other electronic money transfers across the main digital wallets in Colombia.
“At Puntored, we are committed to supporting the financial inclusion of millions of people who live in rural and hard-to-reach areas, while helping companies gain new customers through our open Finance Platform. This investment by SEAF will allow us to increase our economic and social impact to the most vulnerable by reaching additional shops, providing new services, and developing new technology,” said Andrés Alban, Puntored’s CEO.
Puntored is also increasing women’s economic empowerment in the region. Women own and/or operate 60% of their shops and hold 38% of their senior management positions; additionally, 50% of their directors are women, and women hold 45% of all full-time jobs. This is why SEAF, through SEAF’s C19F and alongside SCAF, is also supporting Puntored through its work with DFC and its flagship 2X Women’s Initiative, which aims to unlock the economic potential of women in emerging economies.
SEAF believes Puntored’s future growth will be driven by the migration in Colombia from cash and an informal economy to a formal and digitized one. Such growth will further benefit the shopkeepers in its network, accelerating Colombia’s economic recovery.
 PDETs (Programas de Desarrollo con Enfoque Territorial) are the territories/municipalities in Colombia that have been most affected by the conflict with narco-guerrillas and which the Government has defined as priority for investments and financial inclusion to rebuild social tissue. PDET regions are therefore also the priority of USAID, and most DFIs present in Colombia. They were defined as part of the Peace Accord with the FARC.
The SEAF Colombia Agribusiness Fund (SCAF) promotes rural economic growth in marginalized areas of Colombia. The Activity was formed through a partnership between USAID and SEAF. As only two percent of Colombia’s foreign direct investment goes into agriculture, the country’s agricultural sector has the weakest growth in Latin America. However, a quarter of Colombia’s population resides in rural communities, and an improved agriculture sector is key to advancing peace, stability, and equitable development. SCAF improves the lives of people in the rural Colombian regions by fostering employment and improving income, investing in fast-growing, small and medium-sized enterprises. SCAF´s investment in Ecoflora comprises funds from Colombian investors, a US $5.3 million grant from USAID – with which SEAF has a long-standing global partnership, and DFA financing facilities.
U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is America’s development bank. DFC partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today, investing across sectors such as energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure, and technology. DFC also provides financing for small businesses and women entrepreneurs in order to create jobs in emerging markets. DFC investments adhere to high standards and respect the environment, human rights, and workers’ rights.
USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience. The purpose of foreign aid should be ending the need for its existence, and USAID provides development assistance to help partner countries on their own development journey to self-reliance – looking at ways to help lift lives, build communities, and establish self-sufficiency.
SEAF is an SEC-registered global impact investment management company located in Washington, D.C, with 15 offices in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Utilizing an ESG+ investment approach, SEAF selectively makes structured debt and equity investments in locally-owned small and medium enterprises in emerging markets that have high growth potential, focusing on the key impact themes of climate resilience, food security, and inclusion. Over the past three decades, SEAF has managed more than 40 Funds with over 400 investments across 33 countries.
This press release has been published in full with express permission from SEAF.