‘The limits are only in your mind’
Whenever Omaira Saucedo, a 33-year old trained lawyer turned ‘techie’, has the chance, she encourages female students and high-schoolers to choose technology or sciences as their area of continued studies or profession. The co-founder of Bolivia-based software company tuGerente truly believes in the world of opportunities technology has to offer but still detects a slight hesitation with female students. “The limits are only in your mind”, she says enthusiastically. Saucedo was one of the twelve finalists of the pitch competition of WeXchange in November, the largest forum that connects Latin American women entrepreneurs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), organized by IDB Lab and supported by We-Fi. We spoke with her about her hopes and dreams for her firm and the help she has experienced from mentors and peers of the WeXchange network.
Q: What is the story of your company?
I was working as the Head of Legal at the Chamber of Commerce but had a startup before and know from experience that many small firms still struggle with their administration and handle it manually. With my co-founders we worked on a solution which became our company, tuGerente. It provides a subscription-based software solution to automize the full administration – including sales, financials and human resources – of small-and medium-sized companies. It integrates information from multiple sources, whether from a mobile phone or tablet and provides real-time information to the entrepreneur for better decision-making. We started two years ago with 6 people, now we have a team of 40.
Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your startup?
In the beginning of the lockdown in March, we saw that many of our clients and potential clients were refusing to sign up for our services as they were unsure of their own future. We used this time to restructure our company and improve our products. We also started with webinars to train our SME clients how to manage their businesses remotely. We introduced a monthly subscription for our software instead of the annual subscription, as we know our clients’ revenues fluctuated a lot more. After gaining their trust again, we saw clients coming back from May onwards. November was our best month ever. We now have 500 SME clients compared to 350 in the beginning of the year.
Q: What was your experience in participating in IDB’s WeXchange Forum?
I first participated in the WeXchange Forum in 2019 in Paraguay. I thought it was very inspiring and I am still in touch with mentors and other entrepreneurs I met there. We help each other with practical issues and they also encouraged me to sign up for this year’s pitch competition. So I did, and managed to get through to the finals in November (out of almost 900 applicants). This experience brought us in direct contact with investors and we are talking to a few about possible seed financing. I am hopeful that this will lead to an investment which we can use to expand our operations to Peru.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams for your startup?
I started this company because I wanted help small firms in my country grow with financial literacy and better financial inclusion. I see many of them struggling and I would like them to have more opportunities by being organized and having more information. Eventually, in two years from now I hope we will have 3000 SME clients – in Bolivia and in Peru.