Kuiki Credit: scaling innovation in a growing fintech startup

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Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies

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Learning outcomes: Following successful discussion of this case, students should be able to:▪ understand and apply the principles of effectuation;▪ understand the difficulty of obtaining traditional financing in Latin America;▪ determine the importance of matching new hire and company values, particularly in a small business; and▪ analyze some of the unique problems facing a business at the point of scaling up and provide suggestions for how the protagonist could address those problems. Case overview/synopsis: This case provides an introduction to the Fintech industry in South and Central America, fruitfully combining tenets of the lean startup methodology, effectual principles of entrepreneurship and a novel method of managing personal finances via decentralized vehicles provided through fintech. In addition, Kuiki Credit and its use of fintech represent a compelling example of industry disruption by an entrepreneurial firm. Owing to its unique location, this case provides students with a lens into a part of the world rife with bureaucracy and, in some cases, corruption. The disruption is thus unique in that not only does one view traditional disruption of industry dynamics, but also government policy and cultural mores. This is evinced within the body of the case through direct quotes from founder Ernesto Leal and Eduardo Morán, one of the company’s first employees. This information highlights the market Kuiki Credit pursued, one underserved by traditional financing and thus lacking access to credit.Consistent with effectual entrepreneurship principles, Ernesto Leal, the main protagonist and a Nicaraguan entrepreneur, drew upon his significant corporate experience in financial institutions and as a franchise owner to create a new venture. Kuiki Credit is designed to increase access to capital and disseminate fintech throughout Central and South America, and in particular first in Costa Rica and later in Nicaragua. The case is set in 2018, when Leal faces a scaling issue. Specifically, he wonders how to maintain an entrepreneurial company with high levels of innovation and a culture of continuous improvement despite the need to grow. Near the end of the case, some specific issues relative to culture are briefly reviewed in relation to the sales department and Leal feeling the need to restructure the company, while being encouraged by the board to hit breakeven targets for three consecutive months prior to expanding to new markets. Complexity academic level: This case most appropriately lends itself to discussions in entrepreneurship at the junior or senior undergraduate level. To engage in this case most productively, students should have a basic understanding of entrepreneurship, the equivalent of two to three weeks into the semester. Supplementary materials: Teaching notes are available for educators only. Subject code: CSS:3: Entrepreneurship.





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