Impact Investment Profile





IGNIA Fund is an impact investing firm that provides venture capital to social enterprises serving the base of the socio-economic pyramid in Latin America. Micel provides post-paid mobile phone services to the unbanked in Mexico, serving poor and low-income people who otherwise must pay for more expensive pre-paid services. IGNIA Fund's early stage equity investment enabled Micel to rapidly expand its customer base and support that expansion with technology upgrades.

Investor Targeted Impact

Expand access to basic services for poor and low-income people


Name IGNIA Fund
Investor description IGNIA Fund (IGNIA) is an impact investing venture capital firm that supports the founding and expansion of high-growth social enterprises that serve the base of the socio-economic pyramid (BoP) in Latin America. IGNIA is focused on areas with disproportionate impact on the lives of low-income families, such as healthcare, housing, education, basic services (water, energy, and communications), and income multiplier activities.


Name Micel
Sector ICT
Geography Latin America and the Caribbean - Mexico
Investee business model Micel provides affordable, high value post-paid mobile telephony service to the large unbanked population in Mexico, which is 75 percent of the entire population and most of the BoP segment. Of over 89 million mobile lines, 86 percent are pre-paid and usually more expensive than post-paid plans. Many post-paid plans require a credit card or credit history, yet credit card penetration is low and around three-quarters of Mexicans do not have bank accounts, which are typically necessary to access credit cards. Micel increases the accessibility of mobile communications for the low-income population while diminishing the "poverty premium" they pay by addressing barriers to adoption of post-paid mobile services. Micel's post-paid service plans, in which customers only pay for the minutes they use, are sold to customers who lack a bank account, credit card, or credit history. To bypass these hurdles, Micel uses proprietary risk assessment tools and processes to assess customers' creditworthiness. It resells plans offered by other service providers rather than owning a radio spectrum or wireless infrastructure itself, assuming customers' repayment risk.
Motivations for investment Micel is uniquely positioned as one of the only providers of post-paid mobile telephony delivered affordably and at high value to the large unbanked population in Mexico. The size of the pre-paid market is large due to barriers customers face in acquiring post-paid plans. Micel has the potential to reach an existing market of 77 million lines on expensive pre-paid plans, as well as offering services to the 10 million new pre-paid lines added per year that are purchased by consumers without a formal banking relationship.


Instrument Equity
Investment size USD 9 million
Source of deal One of IGNIA's limited partners referred Micel.
Stage of company at time of investment Early Stage
Purpose of investment Micel has used the financing to support rapid, organic growth of its customer base of 10,000 and growing. IGNIA's investment has allowed Micel to scale its staff to manage the addition of thousands of new customers each month and make necessary investments in technology and equipment. A significant portion of the financing will fund Micel's upfront acquisition costs of new subscribers--costs that are eventually recovered over the subscriber's lifetime. In the year prior to receiving financing from IGNIA, Micel generated just over USD 10,000 from mobile subscription sales. The following year, with access to financing from IGNIA, sales increased substantially, and Micel expanded its unbanked customer base from 200 to over 5,500.
Investment impact objectives Through this investment IGNIA seeks to enable people at the BoP to affordably access basic services. Micel has over 10,000 subscribers, nearly 55 percent of whom are estimated to belong to the poor, low-income, and lower-middle class socioeconomic groups. Through this investment, IGNIA seeks to increase the affordability and accessibility of telecommunications and spur future credit and banking relationships for Micel's low-income, unbanked consumers. Additionally, IGNIA seeks to speed Mexico's transition to a knowledge-based economy by providing a path for affordable mobile data services adoption.
Social and environmental metrics tracked on investment IGNIA tracks several social and environmental metrics on the impact Micel generates through its operations and products. The following list highlights impact areas and lists IRIS metrics (IRIS alignment noted in parentheses) tracked in that category:Board of Directors (IRIS aligned - OI1075) Board of Directors: Minority/Previously Excluded (IRIS aligned - OI6696)Board of Directors: Female (IRIS aligned - OI8118)Board of Directors: Independence (IRIS aligned - OI4070) Board of Directors: Meeting Frequency (IRIS aligned - OI3630 ) Female Ownership (IRIS aligned - OI2840)Minority/Previously Excluded Ownership (IRIS aligned - OI7194) Code of Ethics (IRIS aligned - OI1806)Conflict of Interest Policy (IRIS aligned - OI2596)Local Compliance (IRIS aligned - OI9379)Financial Statement Review (IRIS aligned - OI5164)Governance Policies (IRIS aligned - OI2330) Fair Hiring / Recruiting Practices (IRIS aligned - OI3652)Fair Compensation Practices (IRIS aligned - OI2419)Sexual Harrassment Policy (IRIS aligned - OI9088)Employment Benefits (IRIS aligned - OI2742)Healthcare Benefits Premium Covered (IRIS aligned - OI1503)Full-time Employees (IRIS aligned - OI3160) Full-time Employees: Female (IRIS aligned - OI6213) Full-time Employees: Minority/Previously Excluded (IRIS aligned - OI8147) Full-time Employees: Managers (IRIS aligned - OI8251) Full-time Employees: Female Managers (IRIS aligned - OI1571)Full-time Employees: Minority/Previously Excluded Managers (IRIS aligned - OI3140) Part-time Employees (IRIS aligned - OI8864) Part-time Employees: Female (IRIS aligned - OI8838) Departing Permanent Employees: Full-time (IRIS aligned - OI3653) Employees Residing in Low-Income Areas (IRIS aligned - OI8266)Full-time Wages (IRIS aligned - OI5887) Full-time Wages: Female (IRIS aligned - OI8941) Full-time Wages: Minority/Previously Excluded (IRIS aligned - OI1508)Full-time Wages: Female Management (IRIS aligned - OI5247) Part-time Wages (IRIS aligned - OI9948) Part-time Wages: Female (IRIS aligned - OI8725) Part-time Wages: Minority/Previously Excluded (IRIS aligned - OI9956)Wage Equity (IRIS aligned - OI1582)Employees Trained (IRIS aligned - OI4229) Total Employee Training Hours (IRIS aligned - OI7877)Units/Volume Sold (IRIS aligned - PI1263) Units/Volume Produced (IRIS aligned - PI1290)Clients (IRIS aligned - PI7094) New Clients (IRIS aligned - PI9349) Client Individuals: Very Poor (IRIS aligned - PI9835) Client Individuals: Poor (IRIS aligned - PI3193) Client Individuals: Low-income (IRIS aligned - PI7098) Client Individuals: Female (IRIS aligned - PI8330) Client Individuals: Minority/Previously Excluded (IRIS aligned - PI4237) Client Individuals: Disabled (IRIS aligned - PI6266)Market Research on Clients (IRIS aligned - (OI8113) Market Research Process (IRIS aligned - OI9714) Market Research Frequency (IRIS aligned - OI3857) Client Exit Surveys (IRIS aligned - OI1323)Supplier Organizations (IRIS aligned - PI9566)Supplier Organizations: Local (IRIS aligned - PI6385)Supplier Organizations: SME (IRIS aligned - PI9495)Supplier Individuals (IRIS aligned - PI5350) Supplier Individuals: Female (IRIS aligned - PI1728) Supplier Individuals: Urban (IRIS aligned - PI6179) Payments to Supplier Organizations (IRIS aligned - PI5478) Payments to Supplier Organizations: Local (IRIS aligned - PI1849) Payments to Supplier Organizations: SME (IRIS aligned - PI7867)Energy Purchased (IRIS aligned - OI8825) Energy Purchased: Non-renewable (IRIS aligned - OI1496)Water Use (IRIS aligned - OI1697) Water Use: Municipal (IRIS aligned - OI3031)Organizations Receiving Training (IRIS aligned - PI6065)Group-based Training (IRIS aligned - PI7997)Technical Assistance (IRIS aligned - PI5352)

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