“I saw an opportunity to make customers’ lives easier and supplement the earnings of their partners by offering new payment and collection solutions.”
Throughout Colombia, the under- and unbanked have few ways of efficiently accessing financial services. Thanks to brothers Andrés Alban Holguin and Mauricio Hoyos Holguin and their company Conexred, these citizens are now able to make financial transfers, purchase mobile minutes and access other services through its PuntoRed network. Consisting of tens of thousands of points of salein hundreds of Colombian municipalities, the PuntoRed network has facilitated hundreds of millions of transactions. The company also gives thousands of Colombian microentrepreneurs the opportunity to supplement their income by placing terminals in local shops and sharing revenues with the proprietors
Andrés and Mauricio have long been inspired to become entrepreneurs, having watched their father found 10 different companies over the last two decades. Andrés graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad de los Andes in 1996. During his university years, he founded two ventures, including a campus magazine, and PubliMovil (1994-1997), a company that sold advertising space on the sides of buses. After receiving his MBA from the City University London in 1998, Andrés worked for two years at Imaginatik, a software developer that facilitates innovation in large corporations, before moving to Madrid to work at Meta 4, a leading European company that develops technological solutions. Mauricio, twelve years Andrés’ junior, graduated from the CESA in 2008 and joined Conexred in 2009.
In 2003, Andrés was eager to return to Colombia and put his skills to work by starting his own venture. During a trip to the U.S., he was inspired by a transaction platform for the payment of prepaid products. Based on his experience developing technology products for mobile companies in Spain, he saw an opening for a prepaid platform servicing these same types of companies in Colombia. That same year, Andrés returned to Colombia to found Conexred. By the second half of 2004, Conexred was already offering its prepaid services to all mobile operators in Colombia. During the early years of the company, Conexred operated out of a small office staffed by three employees. Mauricio supported the sales side of the company, working part time while finishing college and joining Conexred full time in 2009. With Mauricio in charge of client acquisition efforts, Andrés focused his efforts on strategic planning.
The extensive reach of Conexred’s PuntoRed network has given thousands of Colombians access to essential mobile and financial services. Conexred partners with thousands of small shops and supermarket franchises to place the PuntoRed terminal in locations convenient for their target customers. In return for providing access to their terminals, the company passes on to the proprietors of these stores part of the revenues from the sale of products through PuntoRed.
Some financial institutions and the Colombian government have realized the cost savings potential of using PuntoRed to reach its customers. Conexred is leveraging this to form profitable partnerships that solidify their position as the preferred distributor of these institutions’ services.