- Miren offers software to help lenders underwrite credit-thin small-business borrowers.
- Wharton grad Gabriela Campoverde launched the startup while in business school.
- Campoverde was recently named a finalist for the David Prize, a $200,000 philanthropic grant awarded annually to five New Yorkers.
Gabriela Campoverde could already count years of experience working at two of the nation’s largest financial firms, American Express and Goldman Sachs, when she headed to business school at the University of Pennsylvania in 2020.
But rather than use her time at Wharton to score another job with a big financial firm, she shifted her focus to study the business needs of South Philadelphia’s Mexican community. Campoverde walked door to door, speaking to the owners of small businesses like South Philly Barbacoa, one of the city’s most buzzed-about restaurants, and learned about the gaps in access to capital that exist for Latina and Latino entrepreneurs.
“There’s a lot of cultural difference when it comes to immigrant communities that affect the way that folks think about their financing capital, or whether they even want to take out a loan,” Campoverde told Insider.
The experience led Campoverde to launch a small-business loan origination platform while in school, forgoing internships to spend the summer of 2021 working on the startup. But after finding that the capital providers she’d need to partner with were hesitant to lend to credit-thin borrowers, Campoverde pivoted to found Miren — a fintech providing the software that mission-oriented lenders can use to more efficiently loan to small business borrowers.
“Our whole idea was that we will underwrite the small business without looking at credit history, because evaluating the small business is much more powerful than evaluating the score that doesn’t necessarily look at the projections of the small business or at the achieved growth or potential,” Campoverde said.
Launched in 2021 and based in Philadelphia, Miren’s software can be used by CDFIs to track the documents needed to manually underwrite borrowers — rather than rely on credit scoring — and manage their loan portfolio. CDFIs, or community development financial institutions, are federally-certified lenders that focus on reaching underserved customers in low-to-moderate income areas. Miren also offers a built-in customer relationship management portal and tools that can also be used by lenders to reach out to prospective borrowers and send application reminders via text, e-mail, and WhatsApp.
“Everyone that builds projects tells you that changing behavior is the most difficult things to do,” Campoverde said. “How can we really work with CDFIs to give them a tool that will enable them to do more with what they already have?”
Campoverde said that Miren is still getting off the ground and looking for its first customer. For now, the startup is focused on outreach to one subset of CDFIs, non-profit lenders, through which Campoverde says Miren’s technology can have the greatest impact. The startup has had conversations with “close to a hundred” CDFIs in New York and states like California, Alabama, and Texas, and is looking to initially partner with two as Miren beta-tests its new products.
Miren hasn’t raised any equity investments to date — for one, Campoverde said, many venture investors don’t have relationships with CDFI lenders — but the young startup has raised more than $46,000 in grants, including a $10,000 fellowship through Google for Startups’ partnership with the venture firm Visible Hands, announced this August.
Also this August, Campoverde was named as a finalist for the David Prize, a $200,000 philanthropic award granted annually to five New Yorkers (Campoverde is originally from Queens).
See Miren’s 16-slide pitch deck that nabbed Campoverde a finalist spot for this year’s David Prize.