Camino Financial raises $750K in seed funding to serve underrepresented Hispanic businesses
Camino Financial is an online lending marketplace primarily focused on deploying capital to the largest and fastest-growing underbanked business segment in the U.S., Hispanic-owned businesses. With the emergence of many new online lenders and credit marketplaces, Camino Financial expects to carve a sizeable niche in online business lending. Recently published research by Geoscape estimates that 4.1 million U.S. based businesses are owned by Hispanics. Based on this research, Hispanic-owned businesses grew 15 times faster between 2012 and 2015 compared to all U.S. firms. Despite their size and growth profile, Hispanic-owned businesses struggle to get access to bank loans with approximately 6% of SBA 7(a)1loans deployed to Hispanics in the last year (source: www.SBA.gov).
Camino Financial was co-founded by twin brothers, Sean and Kenny Salas, while completing their MBAs at Harvard Business School. The Salas brothers were born from an entrepreneurial family. The matriarch of the Salas family started a small Mexican restaurant and over the life of her career, opened over 30 locations in southern California. Unfortunately, at the age of 12, Sean and Kenny saw the fall of the Mexican restaurant chain, a life changing event. Drawing inspiration from their mother’s story, the Salas brothers were determined to create a lending platform catered to solving unique problems facing the Hispanic business community.
“The Hispanic business owner has unique problems accessing capital, stemming from areas as deep as language, culture, and education,” said Sean Salas, CEO. “Lending to the Hispanic market is not as simple as translating your website to Spanish. Our client is seeking an integrated customer experience that requires a tailored design across the business spectrum in brand, product, positioning, and customer service.”
The Company is backed by institutional and angel investors including Collaborative Fund, all of whom offer deep expertise in online lending, commercial banking, and Hispanic marketing. In particular, Collaborative Fund has significant domain expertise in the online lending space with investments in Bond Street, UpStart and InVenture.
With seed funding in place, Camino Financial will ramp-up its marketing efforts and build out its tech infrastructure for scalable growth.
“We are excited to grow our team and invest in infrastructure to seal partnerships that will enable us to build trust and help our community,” said Kenny Salas, Co-Founder and VP of Operations & Finance.
Camino Financial also stands out as it joins the tiny minority (less than 1%) of venture-backed start-ups that are founded by Hispanics (source: CB Insights).
“We have a dual sense of responsibility to Hispanics and other under-represented minorities aspiring to break the glass ceiling to access venture and bank capital,” Salas says. “We must validate that making a concentrated bet on Hispanic entrepreneurs and business owners is trend-setting bet that will generate above market returns. Through Camino Financial, we plan to build momentum for re-investment in under-represented communities, including the Hispanic community. And encourage these ventures be led by minority and women talent. The potential is there, we just need to unlock it.”