InForMoney SEE SMEs Financing initiative

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InForMoney SEE SMEs Financing initiative

Bulgária
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

InForMoney is a web portal, providing SMEs with the unique combination of an exhaustive database of available financial opportunities and a pool of business support experts. Our solution for profound transformation of the utilization of private and public funds for SMEs, is the multiplication of InForMoney portal to cover the SEE region, bolstering entrepreneurship and economic integration.

About Project

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

InForMoney.org has no alternative within the SEE Region.It is an unique solution for stimulation of private and public financing for SMEs for several reasons. 1. It provides comparable database of financing products, which enables real-time access to current financing options, based on the specific criteria of the user. This comprehensive information source significantly assists SMEs in finding financing information geared towards their specific organizational needs. 2. It provides comprehensive consulting and business start-up services provided by a pool of established regional experts in the areas of project development and implementation, as well as donor-funds utilization. 3. It provides financial institutions, international strategic and financial investors with an unique data set of projects with potential to match the existing investment appetite for business initiatives on the regional SEE market, not limited to the separate national markets. 3. It provides a Knowledge Center, introducing the SME user to core business and finance terminology, best-practices business templates, current key business information, as well as relevant news, which all enable the client to turn into business practice the projects in vision. Hence, regional InForMoney portal for South-East Europe provides an unmatched combination of valuable information of interest to both entrepreneurs and investors,an easy access to high-profiled professional business expertise, as well as fundamental know-how for the carry out of own business development projects. This innovative combination fills in the existing gap in the financial market infrastructure in the SEE region,enabling the access to information about finance and business projects on regional level,enhancing the communication and the economic integration among the countries, and providing for overall sustainability of the development of the SEE region.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

About You
Organization:
BC Serdon Ltd.
Visit website
About You
First Name

Gergana

Last Name

Valova-Yankova

Your Organization

BC Serdon Ltd.

Country

, 12

About Your Organization
Organization Name

BC Serdon Ltd.

Organization Phone

+359 2 981 30 77

Organization Address

23A Angel Kanchev St., Sofia 1000, Bulgaria

Organization Country

, 12

Organization Type

Private Institution

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Your solution
Country your work focuses on

, 12

If multiple countries, please list them here. If your solution targets an entire region, please select it below

Southeast Europe - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Romania

Region(s) your solution focuses on:

Europe and Central Asia.

Range of turnover in your target firms, in USD

Less than $1 Million.

Average turnover in USD of your target firm

USD 500,000 - USD 600,000

Number of employees in your target firms

25-49.

Average number of employees of your target firm

30

Specify the size, average and range of expected loans or investments in each target firm

Size of expected loans or investments - USD $ 300,000
Average loans or investments - USD $300,000
Range of expected loans or investments - USD $ 500,000 - USD $800,000

What stage is your solution in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Innovation
How does your proposed innovation leverage public intervention in catalyzing private SME finance?

InForMoney serves as a mediator among private business sector (SMEs), investors, and public financing organizations. It provides a publicly available stage for open discusions on the SME sector developments, its particular needs of financing, as well as investors views and interests towards specific economic sectors. Hence, InForMoney strongly leverages public intervention in catalyzing private SME finance.

What barriers does your proposed solution address?

Asymmetry of information, Lack of SME access to skills / knowledge / markets, Unavailability of financial products tailored to SME needs, High transaction costs for financial intermediaries to serve SMEs, General barriers to SME development related to investment climate.

If you checked any of these barriers, describe how your solution addresses them

Asymmetry of information
The countries within the SEE region are at different levels of economic development, and, subsequently, at different levels of development of business tools and information sources. Some countries, such as Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia, enjoy relatively well-developed state of business sharing practices. Others - such as Albania and Serbia - lack the necessary tools for exchange of relevant information within their business communities. This asymmetry of available information disables investors, interested in foreign-market or cross-national projects. A web portal, holding exhaustive information about funding options and projects with potential in all countries in the region, provides one-stop-shop access to both financing and ideas in need of financing to all relevant stakeholders.

Lack of SME access to skills/knowledge/markets
Consulting business is relatively new to the SEE region. As such, it unfortunately offers grounds for unprofessionals to offer business advice to SMEs. InForMoney will provide a pool of established experts in various business fields to address the need of cross-national technical expertise for SMEs, interested in the development of new projects, through the utilization of available external public or private funding.

Unavailability of financial products tailored to SME needs
Various sources in SEE region - both private and public - offer financial products tailored to SME needs. In fact, the issue is that frequently there is unavailability of information regarding these products. InForMoney will provide this information on regional level, so that SMEs from the different countries are aware of the options available for business development in their own and neighboring countries.

High transaction costs for financial intermediaries to serve SMEs
In general SMEs represent an expensive customer base for financial intermediaries because their projects in need of financing are each time specific, and yet - frequently not large enough to pay off mediators that provide services in help of SMEs' funds search. Hence, it is often difficult for SMEs to find the necessary informational and technical expertise to support the implementation of their planned projects.InForMoney will provide free access to ready to cooperate, experienced consultants, as well as a data set of fundamental business know-how to endorse SMEs in their business initiatives.

General barriers to SME development related to investment climate
Southeastern Europe region is yet considered as somewhat unstable investment environment compared to the rest of Europe. The overall relatively unstable economic environments of the countries, the prevailing nature of bureaucratic procedures that still meets the entrepreneurial ventures in the countries, the lack of strong business communities and long-term business practices - these are all factors that precondition the distrust of investors towards projects in the region. InForMoney provides functional solutions to all these barriers in front of SMEs, because it offers free access to information about all available funding options in the region; it enables direct connections between investors and projects with potential; it offers transparency of the receiving funding eligibility criteria, as well as the process of application for financing; and it creates a virtual cloud, rich of information, business matchmaking opportunities, and technical expertise that boosts the investment climate for SMEs on regional Southeastern Europe level.

Impact
Provide empirical evidence of your proposed solution's success/impact at present. If your project is in the idea phase, please provide evidence that speaks to its potential impact

The web-based portal InForMoney has been operational in Bulgaria since the beginning of 2008. For those two and a half years more than 600 SMEs have obtained information or submitted inquires about finding financing sources for their projects, which makes an average of 260 inquiries per year. By our estimates, around 10-15 % of all the SMEs have been able to secure financing for their projects through the InForMoney portal per year. In other words, our website have been able to catalyze € 3.9 million – € 5.8 million for one year in Bulgaria. For the two and a half years since the beginning of 2008 we estimate that around € 13 million have been allocated to projects through InForMoney.
We expect those results to replicate on the SEE level, thus providing financing source to numerous projects in various sectors of the economy.

How many firms do you expect to reach?

We expect an average of 2840 companies to obtain information about available financing sources in the first year of existence. For the second and third year of existence of our web-based portal, we expect the number of inquiries from SMEs to grow by 20% - 22%.

What is the volume of private SME finance you aim to catalyze?

Based on the financial data that we have regarding projects financed through InForMoney in Bulgaria, we expect a healthy 10 % of all SMEs projects to be financed through the InForMoney SME financing website in the SEE region. Given the 2480 inquiries estimated to be submitted in the first year, this makes 280 funded projects and a total amount of 58,800,000 Euros catalyzed.

What time frame will be required to reach these targets?

All of the above targets and figures are calculated for a one-year period. For the second and third year of existence of our web-based portal, we expect the number of inquiries from SMEs, the number of funded projects and ultimately the amount of financing to grow by 20% and 27% respectively.

Does your solution seek to have an impact on public policy?

Yes

What would prevent your solution from being a success?

1) The effectiveness and success of the initiative is strongly dependent on the pro-activeness and involvement of our partners, the pool of experts and other third parties.
2) New or increased competition may affect in a negative way the sustainability of the initiative and therefore threaten this channel for financing SMEs projects in the SEE region.
3) Threat of a double-dip recession, which will affect both SMEs and financial institutions/strategic and/or financial investors throughout the region.

Sustainability
List all the funding sources that are required for the sustainability of this solution

Our project needs starting capital to be used for the initial research work, planning, establishing the business in the different countries from SEE. The best way to cover these costs will be a public finance and we are already looking for different sources.
Also, for this initiative we plan to establish country-based partnerships with consulting companies with growth potential and experience. We expect them (together with us) to invest in our initiative. This will be their stake in the project.
Then we plan to have working capital inflows from the different activities and services we will provide: subscription fees, referral fees, and success fees.
At last but not least we plan to have advertisements fees for banners, ads, and etc.

Demonstrate how your proposed solution has the capacity to graduate from dependence on public finance. What is the time frame?

When the preliminary research and planning work is over and the partnerships in the countries form SEE are built, the Initiative will need 4‐6 months for popularization. During this period all the local offices (country based) will provide services free of charge – information for available financing and initial consulting. The goal is to make the initiative popular as the reliable source of information and the trusted consultants (having in mind the bad image and reputation of the SEE consultants).
At that period referral and success fees will be very difficult to be attained. Apart from the gained popularity we envisage to have another positive impact of this initially free of charge period: we plan to accumulate an increasing database for good projects, sources of financing, available business opportunities and technical expertise. This will naturally result into matching projects with financing and thus a profit inflow will be ensured. The proactive development of the matching services leads to more success and referral fees, and more sustainability.

Additionally, we plan to have other sources. The SMEs as our clients come for our information and technical expertise. Apart from them they receive ways to improve their capacity and to enrich their knowledge: using our Library, Training Facility and Knowledge Center. These services are not planned as free of charge though the level of prices is very competitive and affordable.

At a later stage, year and a half approximately from the start of this initiative, we plan to have enough good projects in SEE and enough, as number and interest, investment sources/funds. These projects will need preliminary evaluation in order to help the investors to decide whether to fund the projects or not. Our initiative will meet this need providing preliminary Due Diligence: another paid service with a lot of potential.

All the mentioned above will need a period of one year and a half.
During these timeframe we will gradually develop all the planned activities and offerings. This will allow us to reduce risks and to leverage on opportunities.

Demonstrate how your proposed solution will survive a potential loss of its largest private funding source

Having in mind that we do not plan to develop on a single private funding source, it is less risky to lose one funding option or another. Our business model is balanced and we plan to continue keeping that balance. For all that, we have variants to survive difficult financial periods.
Notwithstanding with all said above, the most precarious moment in our project is the starting finance. We plan to have enough financing for the research work, the planning stage, and the establishment stage. But we will need a big portion of this initial financing to go for promotion as well; this is very crucial for our project and having gaps in the financials, especially for promotional purposes, may lead to certain delays.

Please tell us what kind of partnerships, if any, could be critical to the greater success and sustainability of your innovation

For the initiative to be successful and sustainable in the long run we envision developing broad range of experts network throughout the SEE region as well as building strategic alliances with consulting companies from each of the SEE countries.
Furthermore, the success of the initiative will reinforced by numerous partnerships with relevant public and private associations.

Are there non-financial issues that could threaten the sustainability of your proposed solution?

1) The effectiveness and success of the initiative is strongly dependent on the pro-activeness and involvement of our partners, the pool of experts and other third parties.
2) New or increased competition may affect in a negative way the sustainability of the initiative and therefore threaten this channel for financing SMEs projects in the SEE region.
3) Threat of a double-dip recession, which will affect both SMEs and financial institutions/strategic and/or financial investors throughout the region.

Please tell us if your proposed solution aims to scale up through a high growth sector, expand immediately to multiple sectors, and/or scale up geographically

For the first year of its existence on regional level, InForMoney will focus on sectors, peliminary identified as key ones. These are ICT,
Energy,
Infrastructure,
Retail,
Healthcare
and
Education, Agriculture, and Environment.
For the consecutive years, it will expand to cover all sectors of the economy in the countires covered.