10/7/2019 – Singapore-based retail and finance tech startup Asenso Tech has recently raised an investment worth US$1.2 million from enterprise venture accelerator Talino Venture Labs and Philippines’ microfinance institution CARD MRI.
The co-investment by Talino and CARD MRI continues the cooperation between the two companies that was previously established in Asenso, which operates as an end-to-end microbusiness accelerator.
The startup develops a platform that provides micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) with access to capital, supply chain, the marketplace, and loyalty and rewards systems.
It aims is to connect and create an integrated supply chain between MSMEs – especially the local community-based mom and pop stores with consumer packaged goods manufacturers.
“Our technology addresses the needs of the underserved community,” said co-founder of Asenso and CEO of Talino Venture Labs Winston Damarillo. “Asneso will amplify the work that CARD MRI has already done these past 30 years and will carry it to the future using technology to add greater sustainability and scale to their good work.”
In fact, Asenso Tech’s products already incorporate an AI-powered credit scoring system, a data-driven online marketplace, chatbot-assisted loan applications, cashless e-wallets, and neuro-linguistic programming to support local languages.
With CARD MRI as one of its founding companies, Asenso has also been able to leverage the Filipino firm’s network of financial institutions to offer its products. As of June 30, 2019, CARD MRI has recorded over 6.36 million clients with loans and a US$514 million loan portfolio.
Earlier this month, CARD MRI has revealed an undisclosed funding in the Philippines insurtech startup Saphron, a company which only a few months earlier received investment from Talino Venture Labs,
Moving forward, Talino said that CARD MRI will bring artificial intelligence, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and other deep technology to make Saphron’s microinsurance even more accessible to millions of clients from around the Philippines.
According to Mr. Damarillo, 64 million MSMEs account for 97.2 percent of employment in the Southeast Asia region. While in the Philippines, MSMEs comprise 99.6 percent of all registered businesses and provide 70 percent of the nation’s employment.
“Operating independently, they have limited access to capital, no buying power, no leverage to negotiate with suppliers and manufacturers, and severely limited distribution and marketing reach,” explained Damarillo.
“We are harnessing technology precisely to serve the broadest base of people. Our measures of success will be: lowering the cost to serve this market, leveling the playing field for microplayers, and improving the lives and the economic stature of micro-entrepreneurs.”