According to the Colombian National Federation of Merchants (Fenalco), there are nearly 700,000 micro-businesses in Colombia. and according to data provided by the merchants’ union, there are about 450,000 neighborhood stores that generate around 1.75 million jobs in the country.
While the country is experiencing a boom in technology startups, a solution to improve the quality of life of micro businesses and neighborhood stores in Colombia is coming from the hand of Super Pagos; a technology-based company that offers inclusive and digital financial solutions for shopkeepers to obtain additional income by being able to offer their customers other payment options, not just cash.
Super Pagos , was born after its founders Baudoin Pineda and Miguel Giraldo , in their experiences in the different neighborhoods of Colombian cities as shopkeepers and distributors, identified the needs of the country’s micro-businesses, which in Colombia are more than a million .
This segment of the traditional economy, where according to a study 65% of the food that Colombians buy is still bought in neighborhood stores and where 20% of these are more than 20 years old, from 5 to 10 years the 16%, from 2 to 5 years, 26% and 38% less than 2 years, and that little by little has evolved over time, allowed the founders of Super Payments to identify that this industry did not have digital and technological tools that would allow them to face the new challenges as market players, with an audience that is more demanding every day, demanding new ways of buying, better services, digital means of payment, technology and new products.
Today Super Payments generates 75 direct jobs, around 500 indirect jobs and is present in 750 municipalities of the country’s 32 departments, reaching more than 32 thousand linked micro-businesses that can use tools such as ”easy” and ”turn off ”, flagship products of the company.
Founded in 2019, Super Pagos allows those who use its platform to have a growth of up to 20% in terms of sales using, for example, digital payments, or offering financial services, cell phone recharges, payments, transfers, among others, thus allowing them to diversify the portfolio in a world where clients seek new and better financial services every day.
In an interview with Cristian Gamboa, who owns a stationery store in the Las Violetas neighborhood in Dos Quebradas, Risaralda, Colombia, he states that since he started using “refácil,” The platform has allowed him to increase the flow of customers in his business by between 15 and 20%, since they find a wide variety of services that they can acquire through this digital solution in his stationery store.
“Another benefit that I have validated since I have been using the platform is that, for example, customers cross-purchase me, that is, they come to buy pins or recharge their cell phones and leave with some other product that I sell. in my business” said Mr. Gamboa to this medium.
”Refácil” and ”Apagar” is a completely free platform for micro-businesses and neighborhood stores, the company does not monetize for the use of the platform, but they monetize each time a business makes a transaction, it is that is, they monetize through third parties.
According to Pineda, the most beautiful thing about Super Pagos is that it has been a business model based on a bootstrapping model, where they have not received investment, everything has been funded by the same clients and the same dividends that the company has left.
However, this does not mean that the company is not looking for investment, in fact, they are currently starting an investment round that they classify as their Series A. “It is an atypical series because it is our first round and once we go for a series A, but the numbers support it. We do not consider it to be a seed or pre-seed round because it would be giving the company the numbers and figures that we already have,” said Pineda.
The platform built alliances with important banking entities such as Bancolombia, one of the largest banks in Latin America, so that shopkeepers can offer QR codes to their customers without the need for a dataphone, which helped them increase competitiveness against large supermarkets and hidden stores, as well as grow your sales.
Figures to highlight
- Since the launch three years ago, they have not stopped growing at double digits.
- They have more than 30 thousand micro businesses affiliated with their platform.
- They aspire to close 2022 with more than 50 thousand micro businesses affiliated with their solution.
- They closed 2021 with more than 100 million transactions.
- Approximately more than 4 million users who interact with the products pass through its stores every month.
- They had a sales closing in 2021 of 250 million dollars.
Beyond its good figures in just three years of operation under a bootstrapping model, Super Payments generates a complete social impact such as: poverty reduction, closing gaps, in gender equality, we find that around 40% of businesses they serve are led by women.
One of the challenges that, according to Pineda, they have had to face, has been to be able to have an easy-to-use tool, taking into account that the educational level of the sector that impacts, there is a still adult population that are the owners of micro-businesses and stores , then the challenge is to design a product that they do not reject and that they can use easily and that they have done quite well.
Observing that when it comes to micro-businesses, the company was able to observe that they behave in a very similar way and the needs are very similar to those of the Latin region, which makes it a product that fits and is easy. to export it in a simple way to other Latin American countries.
With the capital raising plans of the investment round for its Series A, Super Pagos wants to reach more Latin countries and they already have marketing studies to reach Mexico, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil with their services in the future.
(About the author: Julian Tabares is editor of the Soy Emprendedor site)