Unik S.A.

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Project Number: 
Expected Consideration Date by the Board: 
Date Posted: 
Unik S.A.
Financing Requested: 
Financial Services
São Paulo
Scope Objective: 

The objective of this project is to provide equity and funding to Unik S.A., which will allow the company to complete a comprehensive recapitalization of its liabilities, thereby positioning it to more effectively pursue various product development, growth, and expansion opportunities.

Unik is Brazil’s leading issuer of payroll cards. It provides basic financial services to under-banked, lower-income Brazilian workers as well as pensioners, and makes working capital financing available to commercial establishments that sell basic necessities to these types of consumers. The payroll card business in Brazil effectively acts as a mechanism for interest-free wage advances to lower-income workers in Brazil, who otherwise might not have any other form of contact with financial sector services and entities.

Approximately 250,000 employees at 3,000 companies that are currently part of the Unik network have activated Unik payroll cards, which can be used to make purchases at approximately 16,000 commercial establishments that are now affiliated with Unik and linked to its IT systems. Commercial establishments affiliated with Unik tend mostly to be local food stores and pharmacies, given the fact that a relatively high proportion of spending by lower-income workers is allocated towards food and health-related expenditures (as opposed to bigger ticket, consumer finance items). Employees can make purchases at commercial establishments that are part of the Unik network up to a R$150 per month limit, as long as this amount is less than one third of the relevant individual’s current, unpaid monthly salary. After purchases are made by payroll cardholders, the relevant commercial establishment receives (via the Unik network) a cash payment from employers (for goods and services sold to employees). Thus, Unik effectively performs a billing function between its affiliated commercial establishments on the one hand, and employers on the other hand, thereby taking the settlement/credit risk of employers in its network when it assumes the obligation to pay commercial establishments for goods and services purchased by employees using its payroll cards.

The project has two main developmental impacts. First, it increases the access of large numbers of un-banked, lower-income Brazilians to basic credit resources and financial services (Unik has a relevant presence in the Brazilian Northeast). Second, it makes more working capital resources available to large numbers of commercial establishments who sell basic necessities to lower-income Brazilians.

Unik’s largest shareholder is the Rio Bravo Group, a leading Brazilian fund management firm. Other shareholders include senior management of the firm, as well as the Santa Cruz Group, one of the biggest wholesalers of medication and personal care products in Brazil.

Environmental Review: 

Environmental and Labor Issues:

This project involves providing consumer finance and working capital finance to micro, small and medium-size enterprises that sell basic necessities to consumers. This is a Category III project according to the IIC’s environmental and labor review procedure because it could produce certain effects that can be avoided or mitigated by following generally recognized performance standards, guidelines, or design criteria. Unik will be required to comply with national environmental and labor laws, regulations and standards as well as IIC policies. To enable Unik to better understand and enforce the IIC’s environmental and labor requirements, the bank must retain at least one representative who attended the IIC’s financial intermediary environmental training seminar.