1993. Initiated operations as the first limited purpose financial entity (Sociedad Financiera de Objeto Limitado), or SOFOL, in Mexico and as pioneers offering microcredit loans to low income individuals.
2004. Expanded our coverage to the self-employed segment.
2007. Became an unregulated multipurpose financial entity (Sociedad Financiera de Objeto Múltiple), or SOFOM, which enhanced flexibility to embark on new business opportunities. Began to trade as a public company on the Mexican Stock Exchange.
2010. Strengthened our domestic expansion plans and entered for the first time in the international markets through the acquisition of Financiera Finsol, the second largest microfinance company granting group loans in Mexico, and operating also in Brazil. This transaction was financed through a capital increase with the participation of Eton Park Capital Management L.P. That year we also issued US$200 million in notes under rule 144A / Reg S., positioning ourselves as the first microfinance institution in the region to access the international debt markets.
2011. Strengthened our presence in major metropolitan areas in Mexico by acquiring all the outstanding shares of Apoyo Económico Familiar (AEF). We also continued our international expansión strategy and entered the U.S. market by acquiring 77% of the shares of Apoyo Financiero Inc. (AFI).
2012. In the face of an increasingly complex and competitive economic environment, the Company decided to radically change its strategic focus, implementing new operational policies that favor the quality and profitability of the loan portfolio over its size.
2013. We celebrated the first two decades of our history and successfully completed the first year of operations under our new strategic focus. On several occasions throughout the year we achieved record lows in our NPL ratio. We also acquired 23% of the remaining shares of AFI, thus consolidating our presence and growth prospects in the United States. Furthermore, Finsol Brazil modified its legal structure from a non-profit to a for profit organization, thus obtaining additional flexibility for the services it can provide and funding sources it can access.
2014. In the second year of operations under our new strategic framework, we continued to demonstrate that the disciplined application of the new operational policies allows us to reach our quality and profitability goals, even despite a more challenging than expected economic environment in Mexico and Brazil.
In addition to operational advances, we optimized our financial structure by improving the debt profile and cost for all of our financial liabilities, reaching historically low funding rates. As part of this strategy, we issued Ps. 1.5 billion of Credit-Backed Debt Securities, the first securitization of a private microcredit portfolio in Mexico. Furthermore, Finsol Brazil reduced its funding cost by expanding its access, through HSBC, to funding from the “compulsory” program run by the Central Bank of Brazil.
On the commercial front, we expanded our range of services, launching new insurance products and offering cellular phone plans and handsets.
2015. The disciplined implementation of our strategic focus of prioritizing loan portfolio quality and profitability over size, enabled us to reach our objectives in a year that was difficult due to a complicated economic context in our two main markets, Mexico and Brazil. Although the portfolio had a lower growth than initially expected, we achieved the revised targets for portfolio quality and profitability.
The economic situation enabled a period of introspection for us to optimize our costs, become more efficient and reconsider each subsidiary’s growth plans going forward. Therefore, during 2105, we closed a net total of 21 branches and service offices, one Operations Center (León) and reduced personnel by more than 13%. Independencia will be downsized to become a smaller but more focused and profitable subsidiary, while the group’s growth will be redirected toward AEF and AFI, for which it is planned to open 40% and 100% more branches respectively over the next three years.
The results achieved underscore the success of Financiera Independencia’s focus on quality and profitability, and the competitive advantage achieved by transforming over the past years into a diversified group with five subsidiaries, operations across three countries, and a growing range of products and services. The strength of our group is greater than the sum of its parts, since the weaker performance of one subsidiary at any given moment can easily be offset by the stronger performance of the others; thus, enabling us to achieve a more reliable and balanced performance as a whole.