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国际资讯基于互联网平台的金融业务

Sou Sou:传统邻里借贷的数字化革新

国际资讯基于互联网平台的金融业务

Sou Sou:传统邻里借贷的数字化革新

当Fonta Gilliam毕业后加入驻外事务处时,她没有想过这会让她走上创业道路。但在东亚和非洲实地了解过当地的社区借贷后,她开始考虑如果将新金融科技与这些传统社区借贷结合会有什么化学反应。

一切得从Gilliam在美国驻韩大使馆签证处工作开始说起。

Gilliam说:"我在面试一个韩国女子,她的银行账户中大概有30万美元。她是一个小食物摊子的摊主,所以我就问她'为什么你有那么多钱?'"

那名女士解释说,她使用了一种村庄存款和借贷服务,与借贷圈类似。比如这个圈子里有10名成员,每名成员每月存100美元。每月其中一名成员可以拿到总额1000美元,以此轮流,10个月过去后再开始新循环。

她在非洲运营国务院创业项目时又见到了相同的实践。在加纳,这种做法叫sou-sou。

她说:"他们几乎就是在经营自己的银行。"

Gilliam希望探索能否应用移动技术将现有的这些借贷圈更为简便化,并且在新地方建立平台传播这种实践。于是,她将自己的公司命名为Sou Sou。

Sou Sou目前正在发达和欠发达经市场中测试。2018年6月将正式面向公众运行。除了现代化借贷圈,Sou Sou还能帮助用户建立信贷记录,因为其每月向当地信用评级机构汇报月度缴纳情况。这样用户未来申请银行借贷时更方便。

在测试阶段Gilliam发现,计划买房的人尤其喜欢使用Sou Sou来储蓄买房基金并建立信用记录。

虽然Sou Sou面向所有用户,但Gilliam说设计之初该项目就是为了帮助女性和少数群体。因为在她驻外工作时,她看到很多经营小本生意的女性一次又一次被当地贷款机构拒绝放贷。

Sou Sou目光指向全球市场,所以运营团队人才必须国际化。比如,Gilliam的一个联合创始人就是坦桑尼亚人,他帮助平台联系了当地60万名女性农民来测试Sou Sou产品。

除了人才国际化,团队中的人员技能背景也需丰富。Gilliam说:“我记得比尔盖茨说'要和比你聪明的待在一起'。我努力在做到这一点。”

Gilliam表示,创业让她学会了关键的一点,那就是“你必须专注做好一件事,做对这件事,并向前发展。要有全球视野但行动必须契合本土。”

When Fonta Gilliam joined the foreign service out of school, she didn’t expect it would lead her to entrepreneurship. But after seeing community lending in practice throughout her work in East Asia and Africa, Gilliam wondered what would happen if she combined these traditional practices with new financial technology.

It all started when Gilliam was working in the visa department at the embassy in South Korea.

“I was interviewing a South Korean woman who had about $300,000 in her bank account,” Gilliam said. “She was a restaurant owner of a really small kind of stand... so I said, ‘How do you have so much money, I don't understand?’”

The woman explained to Gilliam that she had used a village savings and loans tradition that was similar to a lending circle.

The practice of a lending circle is a kind of informal savings program. Say you have 10 members who each put $100 into the lending club each month. One member collects the full 1,000 each month and each month the total amount rotates until 10 months has passed and the circle starts back at the beginning.

Gilliam saw this same technique in practice while running entrepreneurship programs across Africa for the State Department. In Ghana the practice was called sou-sou.

“They were almost running their own banks,” she said.

Gilliam wanted to see if she could provide mobile technology to make these existing lending circles easier and to build a platform to spread the technique in new places. She called her business Sou Sou.

Sou Sou is currently in pilot testing in developed and less-developed markets. The program will launch to the public in June 2018. In addition to modernizing lending circles, Sou Sou also helps users build credit by reporting monthly pay-ins to local credit rating agencies. This helps them find future success when applying for bank loans.

Through testing Gilliam found that prospective home buyers are particularly interested in using Sou Sou to save for their home and build credit.

While Sou Sou is open to all users, Gilliam said it’s designed with women and minorities in mind. “These groups are the future,” she said. “It was designed for women, by women, to empower women.”

Gilliam wants to make sure that Sou Sou can help empower women from her neighborhood in D.C. to all corners of the globe. During her travels with the State Department she watched women running businesses get denied local loans over and over again. She thinks this kind of peer-to-peer lending can circumvent some of those problems.

Because Sou Sou has global ambitions, it was important that they have an international team. Gilliam’s co-founder is Tanzinian and has helped them partner with a group of 600,000 women farmers to test their product.

In addition to having a global team, it was also important for Sou Sou to have a team with a variety of complementary skill sets. “I've remembered a quote, I think Bill Gates said, ‘Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.’” And I've really tried to do that,” Gilliam said.

As Sou Sou looks toward the future, everything is focused on launching this summer. And Gilliam has learned how to be the entrepreneur she never expected to be. “You really need to focus on doing one thing well, getting that right and moving forward,” she said. “Think globally but act locally.”


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