These 2 Southeast Asia Fintech Startups Are Helping SMEs Gain Financial Inclusion

A lot of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries are seeking more financial inclusion in the sense that they also want equal access to the services of professional financial management firms that mostly serve large companies and corporations. They want access to transparent, efficient services that can help them with financial bookkeeping, compliance and strategic finance. Most importantly, the service has to be affordable as most SMEs are already running lean operations and do not have extra resources to spare. In the Philippines, two women-led fintech startups are doing just that by making sure that the country’s SMEs are provided the necessary financial services that can help streamline and grow their business operations.

Vesl, a fintech platform that connects SMEs to trade credit insurers, is aiming to innovate and disrupt the trade finance sector by bridging the divide between large corporations and SMEs. As it currently stands, the smaller and medium-sized enterprises are limited in their access to getting trade credit insurance that is vital for protecting them from unpaid receivables or invoices, while larger corporations and businesses can readily access these important trade credit services. This is where Vesl, which was founded by 3 women entrepreneurs, comes in with its business-to-business fintech platform. By directly connecting SMEs to insurance providers, Vesl makes available to small and medium-sized businesses trade credit insurance and other specialized insurance products that would otherwise be out of reach for them. Insurance providers stand to gain much as well as they are able to extend their reach to a vast, untapped market that is eager for their products and solutions. With the ability to adequately insure their receivables and invoices, SMEs in the Philippines can more reliably grow their businesses, obtain new customers, and compete on a more equal footing with the larger players.

Vesl was founded in 2017 by Maureen Nova Ledesma, Yroen Guaya Melgar and Jessica Maniporn. The fintech startup was the 2019 Philippines winner of the prestigious She Loves Tech startup competition, and was a 2017 participant of the startup accelerator Startupbootcamp Fintech. The company has so far received backing and support from investors in Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines.

FullSuite, a business-to-business startup founded in 2009 by Danella Yaptinchay that aims to be the country’s top online platform for both entrepreneurs and SMEs to find their business service needs, offers a wide range of services and solutions that include intellectual property registration, business registration, accounting, tax, bookkeeping and more. The startup employs a seasoned team of accountants and financial experts that are able to provide professional advice and insight to help SMEs with their decision making and risk calculating, thus enabling them to make better strategic business decisions. Now headed by its chief strategist Maggie Po, the fintech startup is accelerating its global expansion as it aims to fulfill its goal of becoming the financial concierge of choice for SMEs throughout the world.

FullSuite and Vesl are two ambitious Philippine fintech startups that are disrupting the fintech space, closing the gap between SMEs and large corporations to provide a more level playing field. By making essential financial services such as trade credit insurance more easily accessible and streamlining its administrative and legal tasks, these innovative fintech startups are helping small and medium-sized businesses to grow and thrive in an increasingly digital and borderless world.

About author

Derek Tan

Derek is the news editor at Absolute Market, a news media focusing on the Southeast Asian tech and startup scene. Contact him at derek [at] for any news pitch.