ENVision mobile: Financial inclusion for microentrepreneurs
We are building business management tools for low-income microentrepreneurs who primarily sell consumer goods in cash.
Microenterprises (MSMEs) globally are being left behind by technological developments due to a lack of product fit for their needs and the needs of those serving them with expertise and capital. Without real-time information capture, MSMEs either stay offline in the informal economy or have to spend hours working with their resource starved service providers (NGOs, CDFIs, MFIs etc.) to track down paper records, re-entering data from paper to computer to enable support to be obtained such as measuring impact metrics to release grant funding or education support or to apply for loans reducing much needed productivity. A lack of record keeping is a key barrier that leads to financial exclusion from many traditional banking options. MSMEs often do not have access to computers or the skillset to operate them, let alone office productivity programs like Excel. However the exponential growth of smartphone adoption in emerging markets offers a chance to change this.
ENVision mobile has developed a simple intuitive android app for low-income microentrepreneurs who primarily sell consumer goods in cash to track their key business activity,. By combining this with our organisation dashboard which isn under developed we will be able to offer an inclusive platform that supports informal MSMEs. By providing insights into their business they could not previously have obtained we will help stabilise and grow their business enabling them to improve their job security. Furthermore by utilising gamification, AI and other cutting edge technologies enabled via smartphone adoption we will be able to upskill MSMEs in business skills from financial terminology to inventory managament, margin setting and more. As a summary ENVision mobile is a simple and intuitive accounting and business management application that operates on and offline for low-income microentrepreneurs. ENVision mobile’s main features currently are inventory management, sales tracking, ledger, and simple P&L reports. Our new cloud based dashboard will enable a NGO, CDFI or MFI to make faster data-driven decisions on impact metrics, grant disbursements and loan applications etc. which normally takes weeks to approve or cannot be processed due to a lack of information. ENVision mobile is designed for the financially excluded and underserved population of society and the millions of invisible MSMEs and their workers in the informal economy, who are disproportionately women in disenfranchised and low-income communities. ENVision mobile is excited to extend financial inclusion for self employed microentrepreneurs globally to be able to finally compete in today's markets.
Watch our elevator pitch:
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Oakland, CA, USA
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
If you selected other, please explain the dimension of the Challenge your solution addresses here:
Inclusive platforms that support informal workers
What makes our solution innovative:
ENVision is innovative as it has been designed to make a complex task intuitive and simple for the microentrepreneur users. The base technology is novel in its simplicity and ease of use. Further innovations will include incorporating machine learning for recommendations to users based on the data collected, exploring blockchain technology to improve credit records and gamified in-app financial education. The record keeping and digital wallet integrations will allow these microbusinesses to better integrate into the formal economy. The cloud based dashboard for organisations will make use of our data sets and custom algorithms to drive value and insight.
How technology is integral to our solution:
The advancements in technology over the previous 2 to 5 years are the key driver to our ability to offer this solution. For example without smartphones that have the processing power of computers, the advancement of cloud based databases and the coming of age of machine learning our solution would not be viable. For example our ENVision dashboard technology will enable organisations to subscribe to an applicant’s data in real-time, something unachievable in developing economies even just a few years ago. Once data is accumulated, our technology will enable organisations and app users to make true data-driven decisions.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
Over the next six months, we will continue to test our product-market fit and business model. Based upon primary research with NGOs, MFIs and CDFIs across locations, we are developing our dashboard prototype. At the same time, we are raising a pre-seed round. We will also work on scaling users and launching new product features such as even more simplified inventory management and more payment integrations and with the knowledge obtained over the course of the first year, we aim to launch our commercial product in eight months.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
By leveraging a technology that works for all microentrepreneurs globally, our goal is to create a universal platform for micro business analytics, micro lending and financial education. By empowering users to track and analyze their own data and providing machine learning insights direct to users, we will enable better data-driven decision making and create impact in a digitally underserved market. Scale will be achieved through direct marketing to users and partnerships with organisations who have large user bases. The technical aspects of scalability are easily achieved through well understood costs of additional engineers and hosting services.
Our promotional video:
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
The countries where we currently operate:
Where we plan to expand in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
We are reaching our beneficiaries through strategic partnerships, social media advertising, and word of mouth. The app can be easily downloaded from the Google Play store. In addition, customers are reached through targeting early stage social enterprises who need a data-driven tech solution, Non-profits, and small businesses with sales agents.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
We currently have over 100 Monthly Active Users since we released our app 2 months ago with no advertising. Our users came from through word of mouth through our strategic partner ENVenture, an incubator for clean energy microenterprises in Uganda and Kiteka, an NGO that trains women MSMEs to use smartphones. The feedback has been great, users like the simplistic design and the ability to track operational expenses via the app. They also love that it works offline and they don't need to pay for data to use it.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
We are targeting 10,000 Monthly Active Users over the next 12 months as we begin to start utilizing digital marketing and working with selected partner organisations. Over the following 2 years we will seek to scale exponentially as our technology allows this and many partners have tens of thousands of users to be rapidly onboarded. By the end of 3 years we are aiming to have a minimum of 1,000,000 Monthly Active Users.
How our solution team is organized:For-Profit
How many people work on our solution team:3
How many years we have been working on our solution:1-2 years
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
Aneri, the CEO of ENVision Mobile, is a serial entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience working with low-income microentrepreneurs globally. Eric Obeysekare, the CTO, is a ICT PhD candidate at Penn State University. His PhD research focuses on ICTs in emerging markets, especially data collection issues in the health and agriculture sectors. Nick McNally, the CFO, is a chartered accountant and serial entrepreneur with expertise in finance and investing in microentrepreneurs. Our combined expertise includes working with low income populations, tech for emerging markets, and business development makes us a strong team to tackle financial inclusion for microenterprises.
Our revenue model:
In terms of paid users and other revenue generation, we will drive growth through three revenue streams: enterprise SAAS offerings of a dashboard and user packages, commercialization of aggregate user data and offering premium services. NGOs and MFIs currently spend large amounts of time collecting, collating and analyzing data from the field. By using ENVision they will speed this data collection up thus saving staff time and travel costs and be able to analyse the data in a simple, attractive cloud based dashboard through a SAAS pricing structure. Secondly, our aggregate user data will unlock valuable insights for international organizations and companies to improve delivery of important products and services. For example, we will be able to see what rural regions are running short of products which will be useful to FMCG corporates. Premium paid for features will be targeted at Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies. For organisations we will offer advertising to global corporates, such as Coca-Cola, to reach rural merchants.
Why we are applying to Solve:
Aneri previously worked with MIT Media Lab's Emerging Worlds initiative and saw the power of MIT's innovation ecosystem extend to developing countries such as India. As such, MIT is a great partner in enabling its network to expand our focus and learn about the latest research in financial inclusion tech. Though the funding is of course welcome, we see Solve's real benefit in unlocking mentorship, visibility, and making connections to enable ENVision mobile to get it's name and brand out there.
The key barriers for our solution:
The key barriers for our solution in the short term are confirming the cost saving for organisations and gaining enough users to drive big data machine learning insights. We are therefore currently focused on finding our product-market fit, interviewing strategic partners, and researching the total cost of current data collection techniques to illustrate the market need for our solution. Getting our first 10 paying organisational customers will be our biggest challenge without the brand recognition many businesses require. Solve can help us with this, and help enable these strategic introductions so we can develop and ship our product faster.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers: