First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Adrian Gunadi: My family and I are fine, we are currently doing our best to not only look after ourselves but also others as well, especially those who are close and dear to us by following the health protocols recommended by the government and the WHO.
Tell us about you, your Career, how you Founded Investree
Adrian Gunadi: First of all, I think I’m a self-starter kind of person. I have always been very resilient and confident in pursuing my ambitions. My interest in the business came as early as high school; I have always been interested in building my own business. As soon as I graduated from high school, I knew that I wanted to study economics as my major, so I did and completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Universitas Indonesia.
In 1999, my career started at Citibank as a Management Trainee. After 6 years, I got a scholarship and continued my studies at Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University. In 2005, I then proceeded to manage Islamic Finance at Standard Chartered, Saadiq, Dubai, UAE. After being away from home, Indonesia, to learn and better myself, I decided to move back and joined Bank Permata as Director for Retail Banking and Bank Muamalat. It’s Indonesia’s second-largest Islamic Bank to set-up and manage Retail Banking business which covers consumer, SME, micro-finance, retail liabilities, bancassurance and e-banking platform.
After years of being exposed to the Banking industry, I found myself having a strong passion in building robust business models for banking companies within the conventional sphere in areas such as sharia finance and SME platforms, as well as in microfinance and e-banking in the retail sector. Throughout the years of working for leading financial institutions has allowed me to witness the fact that in Indonesia, obtaining access to finance is a struggle. Arising from these observations, the idea of building a business which can help empower SMEs and reducing the financial gap emerges.
The initial idea of developing a fintech company started back in 2015, my friends and I realized that many SMEs were struggling to acquire financing and build their businesses. As the financial technology industry has arisen since 2008, we saw an opportunity to utilize financial technology to provide better financing access to the underserved. Through our combined experience, we were able to map the abundance of opportunity. In Indonesia, there are many segments, especially SMEs, that have not been served by the banking system, because they may not meet the terms or conditions. While SMEs are underserved by the conventional banking industry, they actually have great potential and are the backbone of Indonesia’s economy; thus, we decided to establish Investree.
How does Investree Innovate?
Adrian Gunadi: We innovate through building a unique ecosystem that is built around collaboration and partnership with reputable business partners and government institutions that will benefit not only the lenders and borrowers but also the partners themselves. Furthermore, we also strive to improve our product and services to ensure convenience and guarantee. One of the services is our excellent credit scoring system that allows thorough analysis which will assess the loan approval process that will ensure borrowers at Investree will be able to make payments on time. In Investree, we digitize financial inclusion. Our products are based on SMEs concern of getting financing, and through our loan products, Invoice Financing, Buyer Financing, Working Capital Term Loan, and Online Seller Financing, we are providing a solution for them.
Each of our products are tailored to provide benefits towards the needs of our borrowers, for example, one of which is Invoice Financing that serves SMEs that have a concern on managing their cash flow because of the long term of payment. In this case, they need to get financing as soon as possible, but they have no fixed asset to serve as collateral. Here, Invoice Financing becomes a solution for them to acquire financing and grow their businesses even faster. Moreover, as Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim majority country, we pioneer to provide financing products in the sharia-compliant scheme.
Here, we are also supervised by the National Sharia Council (DSN), ensuring that our products are in line with national sharia principles. We are working side-by-side to provide financing to even more SMEs in the ecosystem. Some of which are e-commerce, e-procurement, and formal financial institutions. This way, we can understand the needs and situation of SMEs in Indonesia, and then working to create a financing solution for them. Focusing on them, we innovate continuously.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business and how are you coping?
Adrian Gunadi: During the pandemic, our business operation is as usual. As our business process is done through an online platform, we face no barrier to keep providing loan products to our borrowers. Especially in this situation, we feel the urge to take part, even more, to support SMEs to survive. On top of that, in the current state of affairs, we are aware that there are many SMEs who are struggling to maintain their business, especially in terms of cash flow.
Therefore, we are focusing on channeling loans to them through Invoice Financing, Investree’s loan product that still dominates our loan portfolios. With a supply chain financing scheme, borrowers submit their inquiry using invoices for the work that has been done yet still awaiting payment by the contractors/clients that we call Payor. Through this system, we can determine and guarantee that the invoice has been issued by a good and strong reputable company in terms of finance, for example, a government-owned entity, government, and multinational companies that possess an excellent and strong ability to pay the invoice.
In addition, the invoice which is the basis for borrower’s loans has passed the verification process and comprehensive analysis through a modern credit scoring system for approval and offered in the Investree marketplace. In other words, it increases certainty for loan repayment at Investree. From this, we are sure that borrowers at Investree will be able to make payments on time. We also see strong origination coming from our ecosystem, which helped us to scale with relative secured repayment source. This ecosystem continues to be our channel for our growth strategy. We are also developing other non-lending business solutions such as e-procurement, digital invoice and SME credit scoring. These we develop together with partners who have relevant expertise in those businesses. Hopefully will further expand our offering to SMEs in Indonesia.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Adrian Gunadi: So far, we were quite fortunate by having secured our Series C funding right before the height of the pandemic. This enabled us to continue our expansion plan in the region, and also position ourselves as the leading SME marketplace lending platform in Indonesia. We also managed to maintain our overall credit quality during the pandemic, given our focus on invoice finance and origination from the ecosystem.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you project yourself and Investree in the Future?
Adrian Gunadi: Navigating through a crisis such as the pandemic is one of the challenges we face as leaders. We have been fortunate that we have seen the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998 and also the Global Financial crisis in 2008. So, having seen and gone through those periods, we should remain calm and staying focus on navigating through the uncertainties. We conduct frequent stress tests and monitor our financial position closely. Also, we maintain the overall health and safety of our employees. It has been our commitment to continue to grow always to support SMEs in Indonesia in terms of capital. Especially during the current state of affairs,
Investree is committed to extending loans to SMEs who are now having difficulty securing capital to revive their business. So, we will focus on providing financing through short-term business capital loan products such as Invoice Financing and Pre Invoice Financing which are very suitable to the situation and circumstances of SMEs that need to adapt in the phase transition and are starting to revive its business activities. We hope to be able to support more of Indonesian SMEs to be empowered and continue to grow.
Moreover, Investree has successfully raised US$23.5 million in the first tranche of our Series C funding round on April 2020, we will do further development of Investree services to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Indonesia and to ramp-up the growth of Investree’s activities in the Philippines and Thailand as part of our regional expansion strategy. In the future, we hope to be able to support not only SMEs in Indonesia but also in Southeast Asia.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Adrian Gunadi: In Indonesia, if we are talking about licensed companies that focus on providing loan products for SMEs, especially with supply chain financing scheme, I believe there is no direct competitor. Many players in the fintech lending industry mostly focus on retail/individual borrowers. However, we value collaboration rather than competition. This industry has so much potential to grow, and as the pioneer, we hope the players in the ecosystem can collaborate and grow the ecosystem to be robust and sustainable. That way, not only we can build a sustainable business and stay in the game, we can also empower more SMEs as well as carry out our commitment to close the credit gap in Indonesia. As a pioneer in fintech lending, we are also building new business verticals on top of our lending solutions. This is important to maintain our customer stickiness and offer other products outside of lending.
Your Final Thoughts?
Adrian Gunadi: During this difficult situation, resilience, creativity, and collaboration is the key for businesses, especially start-ups, to survive and ramp up their businesses. Moreover, businesses are likely facing changes in the future, and they are still unknown. Here, Investree is ready to support them to face uncertainty through our productive loan products during this disruptive period. We also see opportunities during these uncertainties to partner with players in our ecosystem to provide other business solutions outside of lending by offering other business solutions such as e-procurement and digital invoice solutions.
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