We talked to Milton Rodríguez of MiFinanzas about business loans, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Milton Rodríguez: Uruguay is dealing with Covid 19 since March 2020. At that moment, in MiFinanzas, we took immediate actions against virus propagation. We promoted the remote work and also other actions to foster virtual assistance for customers, free delivery for small businesses, free custody for investors, etc. Additionally, we provided assistance for small businesses to claim government aids to overcome the crisis.
At that moment, we made a guide for small businesses that was picked up by the Smart Talent portal (https://www.smarttalent.uy/innovaportal/v/47210/15/innova.front/sistema-de-creditos-y-otros-consejos.html)
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded MiFinanzas.
Milton Rodríguez: Everything is about opportunities. I come from a very humble family; I grew up living with need, something that taught me a lot. I took the few opportunities I had until I became the first university student in my family.
Later, I progressed in my career in Information Systems, working for different companies, mostly local for global markets.
Entrepreneurship has always interested me, and I had the opportunity to join a team of people who carried an idea forward.
How does MiFinanzas innovate?
Milton Rodríguez: MiFinanzas has innovation in processes, technology and also accompanies (even promotes) innovation at the national level.
We are the first fintech in business loans and one of the most relevant in the country.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Milton Rodríguez: As I mentioned in the first question, MiFinanzas accompanied the process of both small businesses and investors, injecting thanks to them a total of USD 40: in the productive sector, throughout the pandemic. And of course that in a country of 3: people, this is a lot.
The business had to understand the new rules, adapt, promote them, and above all, find the opportunities that every crisis brings with it.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Milton Rodríguez: Although we had expansion plans for 2020, we had to delay them without having to make decisions that would drastically affect staff. We started the year being 6 people, and we ended up being 12, so the company grew in an important way.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Milton Rodríguez: Our relationship with clients is very personal. It is a type of relationship that generates loyalty and real solutions that directly address your problems.
For this, we use a CRM and Account Executives who really know each of our clients.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Milton Rodríguez: Yes, ANDE (National Development Agency) granted us a seed capital with which we could have the full-time dedication of a partner. This grant was so USD 20k, but more than enough to have the first push.
On the other hand, recently, ANII (National Research and Innovation Agency) approved a second seed capital of USD 10k to accelerate the execution of some plans, opening the way for other requests that will depend on the success of that project.
Your final thoughts?
Milton Rodríguez: For an entrepreneur, there are 2 fundamental aspects.
1.- Falling in love with problems and not with solutions. It is useless to think that an idea solves a problem that does not exist or that it does not address that problem. An entrepreneur solves a problem, and for this, he creates a solution, not vice versa.
2.- The team. The team must be the right one because it is a complex journey, and everyone must be aligned.