In the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, many small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) continued to sell but had a cash flow problem. The disruption of the payments also negatively affected the manufacturers and distributors who manage the supply chain. Banks, on the other hand, created an opportunity for financial technology (fintech) startups to obtain a healthy measurement when it was difficult to find solutions to urgent needs due to their large corporate structures and different priorities.
Investor and entrepreneur Koray Bahar attracted attention with the successful sale of Foriba, Turkey's leading electronic invoicing company, which he founded, to the global leader Sovos. He recognized this shortcoming and produced solutions with Figopara. He is currently leading a fintech startup that helps to find the balance of supply chains whose cash flow has deteriorated during the pandemic period. Koray Bahar, who became the head of the fintech startup that he founded after the successful sale of Foriba to Sovos last year, aims to produce solutions for small- and medium-sized enterprises, this time before large corporations. Stressing that the companies that closed down during the pandemic period were in a difficult situation not because they suffered a loss, but because they could not manage their cash flow, Bahar explained the change they experienced with Figopara. “At Figopara, with our expert employees, we mediate the easy, fast and reliable access of many companies to the basic need of financing,” he said. “While we used to meet with customers in large plazas and business centers, now we are looking for a solution for the tradespeople. We also meet with large companies and banks in supply chain finance. However, our main concern is to improve the financial business skills of SMEs and to provide quick solutions to cash flow. As Figopara, we have brokered TL 600 million ($79.01 million) since the beginning of 2020 and TL 1 billion since our establishment in 2018. So, the thing we look at the most in Figopara is growth. If we can solve a customer's need faster, I think we are doing the right job. We constantly monitor customer metrics.”
75 million-euro support
“Large companies want to pay late, but SMEs want to access money instantly. Especially during the pandemic period, we solve the most important problems of SMEs overwhelmed by cash flow, and we mediate them to manage cash flow and working capital,” Bahar added, stressing that the solution developed will be better understood during the pandemic period. “We will use a significant portion of the resources we will provide from our new $6 million investment tour, which we will finalize in October, to develop new technologies to mediate financing to SMEs. With our newly developed scoring solution, we will continue to be instrumental in the financing needs of SMEs by scoring the commercial performance of SMEs with objective criteria. Meanwhile, we will bring foreign resources to Turkey to support the financing of SMEs. We will ensure that the support of 75 million euros (TL 663.19 million) offered to SMEs abroad reaches SMEs.”
Bahar stated that they will give points to the commercial performance of the companies with the solution they developed called Figoskor by closely monitoring the cash flow and financial health of the businesses they serve and further explained the process. “We offer different pain relievers to both sides in supply chain finance. While large companies want to extend the terms, SMEs want to reach the money instantly,” he continued. “With our bank business partners, we mediate large companies to extend maturities without risking their working capital and for SMEs to reach payments instantly. This request is the same all over the world. With the Figogaranti model that we launched in August, we are now starting to produce Figoskors with the electronic invoice and electronic ledger data of companies. We will enable Figoskor SMEs to access cash from banks on more favorable terms with objective criteria. The number of companies producing electronic invoices is increasing day by day. We could only do this in a country where electronic invoices are used. We will not be late in doing global business as in Foriba. With Figoskor, it is imperative to quickly evaluate the cash flow needs of a business, based on objective criteria. We evaluate all our businesses on Figoskor and accelerate their access to their financing needs.”
Banks and fintechs work together
Bahar said that contrary to prejudices, banks can work with fintechs. “It is not easy for fintech projects to gain priority among the ongoing IT projects of banks. However, if both sides decide to take advantage of each other's talents, things move quickly. We think that fictions that both sides will win will gain more importance,” he added.
Figoskor facilitates access to cash
Bahar noted that SMEs will reach cash faster by giving a Figoscore according to objective criteria and explained the Figogaranti system they established. “We used the first $1 million investment to create the data-based Figoskor. We continue to score SMEs with a new $6 million investment from the Ministry of Finance. We allocate it to the financing of SMEs,” he said. “By scoring the commercial performance of SMEs with objective criteria, we will continue to be instrumental in financing needs. Based on legal data such as electronic invoices and electronic books recognized by the Ministry of Finance, the Figoskor score we give helps banks to provide financial support quickly under suitable conditions. We make an effort for SMEs to get Figoskor as soon as possible.”
International support for startups seeking growth
The StartUpCampus Program supports entrepreneurs who have just started their startup with a 10-week online program, with an international network of investors on the way to scale and grow their businesses.
It is of great importance for the startups in the growth stage to obtain network, mentoring and knowledge from experienced people, as well as investment. The StartUpCampus Program, launched by Endeavor Turkey in partnership with Akbank for the third time, supports entrepreneurs who have just started their startups on their way to scale and grow their businesses with a 10-week online program.
The 12 startup founders participating in StartUpCampus, which will be run entirely online, will receive support from Endeavor's expert mentor network in the field of scaling, in addition to participating in training modules that will take place every week. Startups participating in the program will also have the opportunity to access Endeavor's local and international network.
With Demo Day, which will take place at the end of the program, participants have the opportunity to reach unique feedback and network of relationships by making presentations to investors and leading entrepreneurs of the ecosystem. Applications to the program, which is open to participation from all countries and all sectors, can be made through the StartUpCampus website until the end of the day on Wednesday, Sept. 30.
To participate in the StartUpCampus Program, the founding partner who applied for participation in the StartUpCampus Program must be one of the main partners and under the age of 35, the company must be established or the minimum viable product (MVP) must be introduced to the market, the first sale must have already been made, and the startup must have at least one employee other than the founding partners.
The 12 startup founders accepted into the StartUpCampus Program attend training and workshops specially designed for early-stage entrepreneurs, receive mentorship support from Endeavor's experienced mentors to grow their businesses, and come together with investors.
Two founders from each of the 12 startups can participate in the program and have the chance to present to investors on Demo Day, which will take place at the end of the program. Entrepreneurs who successfully complete the program also have the chance to access the Endeavor's national and international network of mentors and entrepreneurs.
TÜBITAK support for young entrepreneurs
The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey's (TÜBITAK) Individual Youth Startup (BIGG) program, which was launched in 2012, brings young people with innovative business ideas together with their dreams. Grants of up to TL 200,000 are given to those accepted to the program. In this way, entrepreneurs can turn their ideas into a concrete business model. As a result of the panel evaluations formed by academicians, industrialists and investors, it was announced by TÜBITAK that 144 entrepreneurs will receive techno-entrepreneurship capital support within the scope of the second call in 2019. Thus, a total of 1,525 techno-entrepreneurship companies will be established by taking advantage of the BIGG program between 2012 and 2020.
In addition to the cash support it provides to entrepreneurs, the program also offers the opportunity to benefit from income tax, stamp tax, customs tax exemptions and SSI employer premium exemptions. Touching on its contributions in the incorporation process, IFASTURK Financial Consultancy and Audit Founder Independent Accountant Financial Advisor Mesut Şenel stated that entrepreneurs' support from experts in establishing a company is critical because of the limited time frame for the completion of incorporation procedures. IFASTURK Financial Consultancy and Audit, which is with the entrepreneurs in their incorporation process that started with the BIGG program and guided them in all steps in the process, has helped many entrepreneurs develop their business ideas.
Providing information about the details of the BIGG program, Şenel said the BIGG program developed within the scope of the TÜBITAK 1512 project encourages young entrepreneurs to establish companies and contributes greatly to the development of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in our country. “Thanks to our years of experience, we provide consultancy services to entrepreneurs who are entitled to benefit from this support, during the preparation of the interim financial report of the R&D project and the process of incorporation, with our expert staff,” Şenel said. “144 entrepreneurs who are eligible for support need to start their work as soon as possible to establish their companies in October and realize their business plans on Nov. 1, 2020. We, as IFASTURK, will be with them to complete all necessary transactions with entrepreneurs.”
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