Since 2015, Agora implements the Variable Payment Obligation (VPO) Program, which seeks to increase access to financing and enterprise growth services for women-owned small and growing businesses (SGBs). Target companies are at least two years old and projected to grow, with average sales of ~US$60,000/year and a minimum of 10% net margin.

The VPO Program comprises the following elements:

  • A loan product tailored to the needs and characteristics of SGBs by basing loan underwriting on the businesses' cash flow rather than collateral, and by having a repayment schedule that is a function of the businesses’ cash flow;
  • Enterprise Growth Services to accelerate borrower growth, strengthen loan monitoring, reduce the risk of default, and increase program impact and sustainability;
  • Technical assistance to a local bank partner to incorporate the VPO loan in its portfolio;
  • An optional loan syndication model using an investment vehicle to enable international third-party investors to co-lend alongside the partner bank.

Since 2018, Agora has been working with its partners to expand the program, originally piloted in Nicaragua, to other countries, including Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia and Dominican Republic.

  • 10 Nicaraguan companies supported
    US$295,000 of cumulative loan amounts disbursed
  • 87% of program participants reported increased confidence with cash flow and financial management, marketing, and business growth strategies