1:05 - The Goldman Sachs epiphany
9:28 - Getting into impact investment
18:53 - Women in developing countries & traditional banks
32:44 - From a 20$ loan to an SME
51:23 - Investing in European startups
Roger Müller is a board member and managing partner at Enabling Qapital, a microfinance advisory company. His background is in traditional asset management. During the 2008 financial crisis, he was working at Julius Bär's Asset Management — at that time, a conversation with a colleague about the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy made it clear to him that he needed to pursue a more independent path, because he did not want to suffer the risk of losing everything from one day to another. He began to pursue entrepreneurial projects.
But it was only in 2014 that he became involved in the impact investment world by joining Blue Orchard. Years later, in 2020, he built his own impact investment fund: Enabling Qapital.
What is impact investing? It's a small loan you dispense to someone in an emerging market, helping them raise their living standard and become financially independent. The minimum amount is around $20, and the maximum is $30'000. Any higher than that is considered an SME loan.
Which precautions should you take? You cannot take anything for granted. Make sure the person knows what a loan is, how they will repay it, and what to do if business goes south. Before dispensing loans to people, Enabling Qapital execute a due diligence process with more than 100 checks.
Why is microfinance necessary? People who live in remote areas and only wish to borrow a small amount of money have trouble getting loans from traditional banks because the operational costs offset the profits for banks. Whether you give out a $50 loan or a $20'000, the due diligence process is the same.
Enabling Qapital is active in all emerging markets except for North Korea, South Sudan, Cuba and the Central African Republic. Once per year they produce a Social Impact Report, showcasing the achievements of the previous 12 months.
"My finances were stable, and I felt like I'd stopped growing as a person. It was time to start taking risks."
If you would like to listen to more episodes about impact startups, check out our conversation with Anaïs Matthey-Junod.
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