Alex Martin, BS Business Administration & BA International Studies, 2012

Degrees earned: North Carolina State University: BS, Business Administration, Poole College of Management, 2012 and BS, International Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, 2012. Alexander Hamilton Scholars Alumnus
Organization: ePesos
Title: Director of Strategic Partnerships

Alex Martin

Tell us about your current job duties, and how you’re working to integrate sustainability into your role.

My work is essential to growing the reach of ePesos. I lead equity and debt fundraising efforts - we use equity capital to hire more employees like developers, data scientists and customer service staff. Debt capital is used to offer affordable financial services to people living at the base of the pyramid, that is, Mexico’s most vulnerable population. I also build new institutional partnerships. Microfinance institutions and other organizations use our app to reduce their operational expenses, reach new clients and make their clients safer.

Financial sustainability is baked into our business. As a social impact business, we work to improve existing financial services and innovate new ones to enable the poor. Rather than depend on a government handout or donations from a nonprofit, ePesos users are able to expand their microbusinesses, buy more inventory and hire more employees. Others are able to access affordable payroll advances to reduce financial stress during unexpected life events like medical emergencies.

What experiences first made you interested in using your career to drive business sustainability?

As a double major, I realized that business concepts could be applied to solve issues in international development. Social enterprise is the perfect fusion of my two degrees. I published an undergraduate thesis at NC State about the synergies between microfinance and fair trade. At the time, I’d never heard of fintech (back then PayPal was the only thing out there, now there are thousands of fintech companies around the world - Kenya had mobile wallets 5 years before Apple Pay was launched). The sector evolved and I love being at the forefront of innovation.

Give us some examples of how your company uses sustainability to drive innovation, produce results, or improve the way you do business.

ePesos opens the doors to the unbanked population through a platform that incorporates loans, revolving credit, payroll advance and other financial services. Financial institutions can license ePesos to disburse and collect their loans, and therefore save on operating costs.

Free P2P Payments
Users can send funds to any cell phone in Mexico for free and can cash-in or cash-out through a partner network of 10,000 locations, without a bank account or intermediation from mobile operators.

Weekly Revolving Line of Credit
ePesos designed this innovative product so that the borrower has flexibility in how much credit to utilize and pay back each week. Financial institutions can reduce risk by making immediate credit limit increases or decreases.

Network Effects
Through transactional analysis, ePesos can help institutions find new prospects. Payment recipients must open a free ePesos account to cash out; they become candidates for a loan.

What do you love the most about your job?  What are the challenges you’ve encountered & overcome in your career?

The capital that I have brought in to the business is directly responsible for creating more jobs in Mexico, and for ensuring that ePesos can meet its growth goals. This is by far the most satisfying accomplishment I’ve had in my career to date. I also love that I get to travel around Mexico and meet with dedicated microfinance managers and investors who share the same passions I do.

Like most millennials, I have bounced around several jobs trying to find the right fit. I worked at one place that I wasn’t passionate about at all, and very quickly became disenfranchised. If you sense this is happening to you, get out fast! I also spent some time at an organization that I deeply admired, but my role was not the right fit for my skills. That was painful, too - it was the first time I felt like I was letting my coworkers down. I learned an incredible amount during that time. I had a very supportive team and together, we realized that my skills would better be put to use in a role like the one I have now. Instead of pushing me out the door, they helped me make connections and gave me time to find the right fit.

What’s your advice for students who are interested in sustainability?  How can students combine their sustainability interests with their day-to-day duties?

Go do something bold, especially while you’re a student and have nothing to lose. And stop buying junk. If you can pack your life into a suitcase, you can get into this sector more easily. Field experience is key, especially if you don’t want to live your whole life behind a desk. Network, network, network, but be genuine: do favors and expect nothing in return. Net Impact is a great organization for this; get involved at NC State. Always challenge the status quo: if you see something that could be improved, suggest an alternative.

Business Sustainability Collaborative Library: