Award-winning venture studio, Talino Venture Labs, and its portfolio company Asenso join LAEDC-led coalition to win EDA’s $1 Billion “Build Back Better” Regional Challenge

Award-winning Filipino-led venture studio Talino Venture Labs (Talino) has joined a coalition of regional stakeholders led by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), as a finalist in the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge initiated by the U.S. Economic Development Authority (EDA). Talino is joined by its portfolio company, Asenso, a Lending-as-a-Service fintech firm that empowers community banks and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to provide lower-cost loans at scale.

The coalition will advance to Phase 2 and compete for up to $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding to develop and scale blue (marine and maritime) and green (agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, renewable energy, and tourism) sector innovations within the Goods Movement Ecosystem (GME) in Southern California.

“Talino is a proud member of the LAEDC Board of Governors, and together with our portfolio company Asenso, we stand by the LAEDC’s commitment to ensure an equitable and inclusive post-pandemic economic recovery for all Americans,” said Winston Damarillo, CEO of Talino Venture Labs. 

Asenso President Keny Chang said, “Our work at Asenso is a testament to our mission of inclusive growth; through our work, community banks and CDFIs are provided with the technological and operational expertise they need to make capital more accessible to small and medium enterprises, a significant percentage of which are underserved and underrepresented.”

Asenso was spun off from Talino’s win in the “market-readiness category” of the 2021 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) tech sprint to reach the unbanked in the United States.

“We are more than thrilled to collaborate with Asenso to make capital more accessible to small businesses, and, together with our public and private partners, create sustainable jobs and enterprises for the region, strengthening California’s position as the country’s leading trade gateway,” said LAEDC COO Stephen Cheung. 

Building resilient, future-proof economies

The EDA’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge aims to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to accelerate economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and build resilient local economies. It is the largest economic development initiative in decades from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge aims to supercharge local economies and increase American competitiveness around the globe,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo, as quoted from the LAEDC website. “The outpouring of interest in this program shows the demand for the Build Back Better agenda and the desire to not only create good-paying jobs but also strengthen our country’s economic resiliency for years down the road.”i

As one of the Phase 1 finalists, the LAEDC-led coalition was awarded $500,000 to further develop its plans to advance more equitable and sustainable growth in the region’s GME and position Los Angeles as a powerhouse in the ocean economy, which comprises industries that heavily rely on marine resources.

In Phase 2, finalists will compete for significant implementation assistance. EDA will award 20 to 30 coalitions each with up to $100 million in funding to assist communities in executing ambitious growth initiatives across a variety of strategic growth sectors.

Talino and its portfolio companies are based in LA and operate out of a Manhattan Beach headquarters. 

Asenso is a Lending-as-a-Service firm that provides the technology and the operations to help community banks scale digitally. Replicating best-practice models from emerging markets, Asenso offers a highly scalable and secure digital solution that enables banks to administer low interest loans to help small businesses—the backbone of the American economy—rebuild, recover, and dream even bigger. Asenso is part of the Talino Venture Labs portfolio of startups.

Talino Venture Labs is a Filipino-led global venture studio for inclusive fintech that is on a mission to bridge financial inclusion for over 1.7 billion people around the world. It uses the successful venture studio model to build repeatable, scalable, and profitable fintechs that empower underserved, underrepresented groups around the world with financial access and mobility. Visit for more information.