Contxto – The Colombian Stock Exchange (BVC) announced the launch of a2censo, an online crowdfunding platform for SMEs, last Wednesday. It targets startups, as well as small and medium enterprises, looking for alternative financing that matches their needs and plans.
It’s an innovative take on crowdfunding, given the State’s role in what is usually a private affair. The government’s interest lies in channeling growth and investment to Colombian startups that show potential.
To participate, interested parties can invest as little as US$58. In return, they receive investment bonds with a set interest rate. They can be a person or company, it doesn’t matter, anyone can join in the fun.
Fittingly, a few big guns of private and public initiatives make up the project’s main backers. Among them is the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), iNNpulsa Colombia, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, the Development Bank of Latin America, the National Guaranteed Fund, and state-owned bank, Bancóldex.
What is a2censo and how does it work?
Interested parties need only fill out the online form and own a legitimate Colombian bank account in order to start investing. Moreover, they can choose between the startups, risk levels, and terms that suit them best.
Meanwhile startups and SMEs must establish the payment terms and amount of money they need. Likewise, they must cover a financing fee, the interest over the investment, and a commission charged by the platform.
A2censo is not the first crowdfunding platform in Colombia. Fintechs like Vaki are already available. However, unlike a2censo, it operates throughout Latin America and can serve for various projects besides startup development.
Startup due diligence
The fact that a2censo is overseen by the Financial Superintendence of Colombia, a regulatory government agency, is highly reassuring. But there is some moderate lifting involved.
Investors are highly advised—whether they be newbies or veterans— to carry out the necessary due diligence on any startup prospect. As we’ve recently learned with Weeshing, even in the world of crowdfunding platforms, fraudsters abound. Yeesh.