Editor’s Note: Numbers here were taken from our most recent podcast with AwanTunai CEO Dino Setiawan. The content of this article is for informational purposes only, should not be taken as legal, tax, or business advice or be used to evaluate any investment or security, and is not directed at any investors or potential investors in any Insignia Ventures fund.
- US$100B Indonesian FMCG offline retail market in need of disruption
- 40+ years of experience in financial services and technology brought together by a shared vision
- US$800M+ in annualized loans disbursed to supercharge SMEs
- 14x Growth in data capture through their proprietary ERP software since 2021
- 14x Growth in CM over the past 2 years
Indonesian FMCG offline retail market in need for disruption
As it stands today, $6 trillion of global FMCG trade is traditional, with cash handling, credit access, fulfillment, and inventory management as key barriers. Double-clicking into Indonesia, which is home to over 60 million MSMEs, daily necessities and staple foods have long been plagued with supply chain inefficiencies, compounded by the impact of recent events.
Traditional FMCG retailers and wholesalers face demographic headwinds on business continuity and inflationary squeeze on working capital, posing consolidation challenges for the FMCG industry. Ultimately, there is a need for control systems to enable businesses to sustain and better yet expand on top of additional working capital to finance the rising cost of inventory as a result of that inflationary squeeze. Any company entering this space is looking at a whopping $100 billion available market.
2. 40+ years
experience in financial services and technology brought together by a shared vision
Enter AwanTunai in 2017, led by co-founders Dino Setiawan, Windy Natriavi, and Rama Notowidigdo with their extensive 40+ years of experience in financial services and technology. The founders of AwanTunai, having led teams in leading organizations such as Morgan Stanley, CLSA, Gojek, and more, are a deeply passionate team who were bold enough to go against all odds and service a market long known to be difficult to disrupt. Their expertise in both finance and technology has enabled AwanTunai to build a robust platform that streamlines the supply chain process for SMEs whilst building a sustainable business model. And this expertise is a mix that the founders have since expanded to the rest of their management team.
Dino shares on our podcast how the nature of the problem they are solving has been a key factor in drawing top talents. “One of the interesting realizations is that it’s not about the money. I mean, these are extremely expensive talents, right? But certainly, talents that we probably wouldn’t have been able to afford unless there was that X factor. And the X factor, with a lot of technical talent that we’ve been able to attract, is that this is something interesting that they want to work on…getting user adoption, especially when the user is tech-illiterate or doesn’t even have a phone, is a challenging problem that is exciting to solve.”
in annualized loans disbursed to supercharge SMEs
We know very well that the problems faced by MSMEs cannot be solved solely by digitizing their operations. The status quo is that FMCG is inelastic in demand and price, yet SME lending is highly driven by overcollateralization with hard assets, and not even banks can increase financing.
The ultimate goal for AwanTunai has been to solve these financing pain points across the vertical supply chain as they finance micro-merchants through embedded financing and partnerships with supply chain players to allow automated/reduced risk lending. With AwanTunai in the picture, over 35 thousand SMEs have been empowered through financing alone as the company has disbursed over $800 million in loans disbursed (annualized).
Growth in data capture through their proprietary ERP software since 2021
In order to grow their financing business, AwanTunai has had to invest in finding a sustainable channel to efficiently capture data for risk management. They discovered that supply chain data would be the way to go after several iterations in their first two years, but then realized that existing ERP systems back then were not designed to sufficiently detect and mitigate the risk in the industry.
As Dino explains on our podcast, “When we did the build versus buy analysis back in 2019, we realized that the third-party ERP systems in the market were not designed to detect fraud that we knew existed. We couldn’t see that in the general market ERP systems out there. So that’s how we ended up building the ERP system from scratch, specifically focused on fraud detection. Maybe that’s been the differentiating factor.
A lot of the e-commerce marketplace folks have scaled up their systems to optimize for GTV capture, and sometimes there’s a bit of a perverse incentive where if there’s some fraudulent GTV, it’s still captured because it’s driving up the valuation. But for us, since we started life off as a lender and risk management is part of our DNA, we custom-built the system to detect fraud.”
AwanTunai did not only build the system from the ground up, but has since invested talent into making this key part of the business world-class, from bringing in global data science and risk management talent to securing patents.
It is important to note however that the success of their ERP system in acquiring data would not have been possible without the market finding value in such software that aligned with their operations. Given the highly manual and manpower-driven safeguarding of operations and cash handling, operational pain points have always been a classic problem for merchants in the FMCG supply chain. The pandemic in 2020 increased the impact of these long-standing problems, and opened up an opportunity for AwanTunai to be that solution for these businesses.
With an ERP system that provides order management, customer management, payment acceptance, and inventory management, AwanTunai effectively transforms suppliers and merchants in the downstream supply chain, facilitating over US$3B in sales and lend well over 800 million USD on an annualized basis (as of March 2023), with the best conversion rates in the industry.
The ERP business and lending business are ultimately tied together in a virtuous cycle of data capture and validation. As Dino explains on the podcast, “The great thing is that at this middle layer here, the data capture is very efficient, right? There’s enough concentration of data for us to capture it economically and also validate it economically. And that validation is really the key differentiation for our company here. We’ve seen a lot of folks with mountains of GTV really struggle to try and monetize that through financial services, namely lending because it’s such a high-margin business. But for us, validating is really the key to enabling this financing to work, right?”
Growth in CM over the past 2 years
Quoting Dino, a number of VCs have dismissed the idea that lending especially in this space could be profitable. AwanTunai has managed to utilize valuable transaction data captured by their ERP systems, simultaneously enabling them to have superior asset performance with low risk and credit loss rates, and high NIM. Since 2021, they have witnessed a 14-fold growth in contribution margin.
As Dino adds in our podcast, “Back in the easy money days, we were like the ugly [duckling]. But now we’re getting close to profitability, and hopefully, this is our moment in the spotlight.”
Beyond the numbers
As the Indonesian MSME economy sees an uptick, the demand for efficiency and working capital is likely to increase, providing supply chain digitization and financing players with ample room to widen their geographic footprint. But the impact does not end with disbursing loans for AwanTunai. At the end of the day, they are enabling growth for businesses that might have otherwise not been able to grow further due to financing constraints, among other challenges.
Dino shares an example on our podcast, “Most of the largest suppliers have developed some kind of custom system because it’s a fragmented software market. Our operating system and financing have played a strong role in enabling the best-performing suppliers to grow significantly – we’re talking 4x-5x or even more.
For example, one of our best-performing wholesalers initially had just two warehouses. With the control systems we put in place using our operating system, they were able to manage more remote sites and grow to 11 warehouses within one and a half years. No bank would lend at a 500% increase as it’s too risky. Our model not only lends, but our operating system helps manage businesses and provides deep visibility into operations.”
Paulo Joquiño is a writer and content producer for tech companies, and co-author of the book Navigating ASEANnovation. He is currently Editor of Insignia Business Review, the official publication of Insignia Ventures Partners, and senior content strategist for the venture capital firm, where he started right after graduation. As a university student, he took up multiple work opportunities in content and marketing for startups in Asia. These included interning as an associate at G3 Partners, a Seoul-based marketing agency for tech startups, running tech community engagements at coworking space and business community, ASPACE Philippines, and interning at workspace marketplace FlySpaces. He graduated with a BS Management Engineering at Ateneo de Manila University in 2019.