What to Expect in 2016

By: Jackson Scher

Welcome to the Quona Capital blog. This is our first post ever! We'll be posting about #FinTech, our portfolio companies, trends in the industry and our target geographies.  But for our inaugural post, a bit about ourselves...

2016 is going to be a big year for Quona Capital, and we couldn’t be more excited.  Quona is the first venture firm dedicated to FinTech for the underbanked in emerging markets, building on the success we had as Accion’s Frontier Investments Group.  We plan to continue investing in disruptive companies changing the face of finance through technology and improving livelihoods at the base of the pyramid.  We’re turbo-charging our efforts to be a thought leader in the world of impact investing by reading, writing and sharing more than ever.  And we’re excited about finally plugging in our desks and getting our office up to speed!

Investing: In 2016, our highest priority will be to continue to invest in disruptive, growth stage FinTech startups targeting the unbanked.  In late 2015, Quona made two investments we feel will have significant impact for the underbanked in Brazil and India.  BankFacil uses a state-of-the-art platform to dramatically enhance loan-processing efficiency for Brazilian consumers seeking secured loans, especially auto and home loans.  Increased efficiency allows Brazilian banks to reach clients that were previously unreachable due to endless red tape.  NeoGrowth offers receivables financing to Indian small to medium enterprises (SMEs).  The platform requires minimal credit history and very little documentation, so many previously underserved merchants have access to business-changing capital.  In 2016, we’re excited about a few big ideas in FinTech for the underbanked:

1.     SME Lending: Our investment in NeoGrowth shows our excitement about this sector, but we hope we aren’t finished.  Small and medium sized enterprises need working capital, and the market is ripe for new players to put data to work and access these consumers.

2.     Mobile Payments: As mobile and smartphone penetration continues to explode worldwide, emerging consumers will keep moving away from cash.  We’ll be watching closely as investable opportunities in mobile payments arise.

3.     E-commerce: With increasing incomes and connectivity, e-commerce is poised to take off in emerging markets.  We see a real opportunity to partner with e-commerce players hoping to utilize their platform to provide working capital to small sellers in emerging markets.

Knowledge: At Quona, we feel that our greatest asset is our shared knowledge of our sectors and geographies.  We’re constantly sharing articles over e-mail, and we’ve decided to catalog some of these exchanges on our new, dedicated page: quona.wordpress.com.  There, we’ll post the latest news and best thinking about FinTech, emerging consumers, impact investing and financial inclusion.  We’re watching the market closely, but these stories are worth sharing, so we’ll post them on our page.  You can also find our Knowledge Page in the “what we’re reading” tab here on quona.com.  Next, the piece you’re reading is the first of many in 2016.  Future pieces will focus on key sectors, trends and geographies, bringing together insight from many Quona team members.  And lastly, we wouldn’t be a proper VC firm without an active Twitter game, so follow us on @quonacapital.

Impact Measurement: We continue to work with industry leaders to help push standards of impact measurement in venture investing.  Pat & Monica recently led a webinar with the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), where we highlighted our agile framework for impact measurement, developed alongside Apis Partners.  This framework seeks to limit the impositions created by impact reporting while still generating valuable insight.  We don’t seek to create a lowest common denominator across our portfolio.  Instead, we defined three key areas: Access, Quality and Markets, and we selected key performance indicators per focus areas for each company.  Those metrics are the basis of our impact dashboards, and we can use those to make sure our investments are having quantitative impact on financial services for the underbanked.  Social performance measurement is an evolving and important discussion in the world of impact investing, and we’re excited to be on its forefront in 2016.

In the Office: We’re excited about our new digs at suite 401, though we do miss sitting next to our Accion friends in suite 400.  In true start-up mode, we’ve recently upgraded to real office furniture while keeping the tech feel complete with a collaboration room and games in common areas.  Stay tuned for some interior decorations, but the wifi is running if you need a place to work while visiting D.C.  We’re extremely excited about adding Aicha H.B. Becaye as our Head of Operations & CCO, and we continue to look to build a team of driven professionals dedicated to the mission of investing in FinTech startups changing the conversation on financial services for the underbanked.  If this is you, check out quona.com/contact to see current openings for our Director of Portfolio Engagement, Undergraduate Intern and for our Summer Associate program (that’s yet another thing we’re excited about for 2016!)

All in all, it’s looking like a big year for Quona.  Stay tuned, and stay in touch, as we look forward to leading the way in investing in disruptive startups revolutionizing financial services for the underbanked through technology.  We’re going to expand our role as a knowledge leader in the impact investing and measurement space, all while building a dynamic home and an all-star team.  See you out there!