It takes sheer passion, commitment, and a lot of courage to become an entrepreneur. A blend of all these traits is a serial entrepreneur, Amparo Nalvarte García, the Co-Founder and Chief Investment & Alliance Officer of B89.
Amparo is an entrepreneur at heart, a lover of adventure, passionate about creating solutions that have never been done before, and above all with a great purpose. She is also the co-founder and ex-CEO of Culqi, an omnichannel payment gateway. It is her first fintech startup and she created it as part of the last course to finish University. It had exponential growth and was sold 5 years later to Credicorp, one of the largest economic groups in Peru.
Let’s take a look into the inspiring journey of Amparo and how she has headed B89 to be where it is today, through an interview conducted between CIO Look and Amparo.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Please brief our readers about your leadership position at the company.
Currently, together with a great team, we are developing B89, the neobank of Hispanic Americans in the world and our purpose is to create financial well-being without borders. I am co-founder of B89 and I am in charge of developing new business strategies, constantly raising capital and generating strategic partnerships that generate value for everyone.
What were the challenges you came across since founding the organization?
We began the last months of 2019 by recruiting the initial team, and the most challenging, and rewarding at the same time, has been to form a quality team in the midst of a pandemic. Going from 15 to 64 people in home office mode, maintaining a good pace of development and creating a solid organizational culture has really been a challenge and something totally new for me.
Additionally, we had to raise investment in the midst of the pandemic. It took us time and many experiments to find the best way to explain our vision through a video call, build trust and convey that we are the right team. Having had a successful previous startup, facilitated the first contact with investors. However, we have visited more than 100 potential investors and we have received many NO along the way. We currently have an open seed round of USD 3M and only USD 900K are still available.
What people, what books, what life factors have influenced and impacted you?
A book for life: Veronika Decides to Die (Paulo Coelho). I read this book at 12 and it really impacted my mind. It taught me to appreciate life, each day is a gift and each experience a new learning.
A book for business: The Money Code (Raimón Samsó) and From Zero to One (Peter Thiel)
Culqi was born in the second attempt to finish university. The first time I failed the course, I presented a very small project, with little vision I would say. And also because I wanted to finish quickly, I was taking 5 more courses and I was working. That was the most important course of the career and I really felt very ashamed. But now looking back, if I had not disapproved, Culqi would not exist today. And that left me 3 important lessons:
- i) Sometimes you have to take a step back to take two steps forward,
- ii) focus is vital for things to happen and
iii) think big because the bigger the impact, the more benefits for everyone.
Being an experienced business leader, what is your opinion regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your industry? And how has your company managed to overcome this significant challenge?
The pandemic made evident the lack of banking and the lack of access to capital. To reactivate the economy, we need to increase consumption, and that is where we focus. We redesigned the strategy and launched our first product, the safest and simplest credit card on the market, accessed through a mobile app, all 100% digital.
What is your thought on the necessity of a positive work culture? In what ways do you implement it at your organization?
I am convinced that positive culture is vital in an organization and I worked very hard in 3 aspects:
- Make my team feel safe in the uncertainty, fulfilling our commitments and doing the impossible to always fulfill something as basic as paying them their full salary on time.
- Trust us, our ability to learn and create our own reality. I like to launch new challenges that lead my team to think beyond the obvious, arouse their curiosity and bring out their creativity.
- Seek the closeness and cohesion of the team. It all started with the greeting. When possible in pre-pandemic, I encouraged the team to greet each other and wave goodbye with kisses or hugs. That small gesture marked a before and after in the team’s performance.
In what ways have you or your company contributed to the community? If given a chance, what change would you bring to help other companies?
I believe that the best way to contribute to the community is by example. If a normal person achieves results, why not me? If they can, I can too. I followed many leaders in their industries and when I realized that they were breaking barriers, I said wow, I can do that too. I feel that I have advanced on the path of entrepreneurship, and my best way to contribute to the entrepreneurial world is by telling my story, sharing my fortunes and deserts, and above all showing that Peruvian talent can go very far.
Have you in any ways contributed towards the cause of women empowerment?
My way of empowering women has been to hire those who have not had many options in life, but who showed a crazy desire to take over the world. The best way to start is through the customer service area, so they know the product, understand the operation and then they specialize in what they like. So, now these women are Product Managers for digital products, fraud specialists and more.
What would be your advice for aspiring and emerging women entrepreneurs in your industry?
Of my favorite phrases. “If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, not the goal.” This leads us to experience new unexplored paths, to open our minds and seek flexibility.
And this personal phrase “Your business will grow as much as you grow as a person.” Personal growth leads you to tear down limiting beliefs and consequently, new beliefs will positively impact the growth of your business