While working internationally in investment banking, public health and microfinance, Shivani Siroya witnessed microfinance’s growing success, but recognized a flaw: it did little for long-term growth. Shivani set out to address the gap between micro-loans and traditional bank loans, as well as financial education, so a union of capital and accountability could unleash small businesses’ potential to lift their communities with them.
Founding InVenture, Shivani created opportunities for these fledgling businesses to grow, hire more employees and create local enduring economic expansion. She’s cornered a market niche, more akin to venture capital than microfinance, granting larger loans of up to $15,000 for entrepreneurs who have “graduated” from microfinance. This contrasts sharply with small micro-loans, which hold borrowers back with high interest rates, rigid payback structures and lack of guidance. InVenture’s loans are crowd-sourced, similar to the popular organization Kiva, while mobile tools and mentoring aim to transform those investments into lasting outcomes.
Shivani developed a SMS money management and risk mitigation tool, helping loan-seekers and lenders alike. Entrepreneurs can track revenue, household expenses and other financial information through their mobile phones. This cloud-stored data improves financial literacy, provides risk and investment information for licensed organizations and micro-lenders, and measures program impact researchers.
For Shivani, financial education is at the heart of her work. She spends a significant portion of her time in the developing countries InVenture serves, helping their Foundation’s fellows educate local entrepreneurs to make the best use of future loans. “Many times working on the ground can be challenging just because you need to find housing and connectivity for your team to get established,” she recalls. “These are some of things that make the daily work challenging, but once you can find some sense of a foundation then I think it’s the work that becomes challenging.”