Bfree, a Nigerian Debt Recovery startup that leverages ethics and technology to lead customers out of debt has secured $1.7 million in Pre-seed funding to drive growth and expand operations across Africa and other continents.
4Di Capital, Octerra Capital, VestedWorld, Voltron Capital, Logos Ventures, and other angel investors participated in the Pre-series A fund round. So far, Bfree has raised a total sum of $2.5 million in funding, this included the $800,000 raised in a seed round in May 2021.
According to the company, the unsatisfied approach on the credit collection options and constant humiliation of customers is one of the problems Bfree is solving. The company’s co-founder and CEO Julian Flosbach said, “inefficiency and lack of transparency of collections are not unique challenges to digital lenders and also not peculiar to Nigeria. We see significant use cases among other customer verticals with digital products such as commercial and microfinance banks, embedded finance solutions, like buy-now-pay-later, credit cards, and even tax payments at some point. Basically, everywhere where value is owed, our solutions can be deployed. Here, we also don’t just build a solution for Nigeria, but a solution that can be potentially used in every emerging market with a challenging infrastructure for collections”.
Bfree was founded in 2020 by Juliana Flosbach Co-founder/CEO, Chukwudi Enyi co-founder/COO, and Moses Nmor co-founder/CPO.
Following the fund raised, Bfree plans to embark on massive recruitment as it expands to new markets in Ghana, India, Uganda, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Russia, Poland, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
Speaking on the company’s expansion, Julian said, “We are going into markets with large populations, credit deepening and an underdeveloped regulatory environment, where a behavioral collection approach is likely to work.
“We saw that there was like a little bit of a breach in the value proposition of lenders — they are good at giving out loans, but the aftersales services of the credit market didn’t work as collections processes were inefficient and not user friendly.”
Bfree currently handles over 800,000 customers compared to 300,000 customers the company reported in May 2021.
Yohan Theatre, Bfree head of decision sciences & financial engineering said, “Lenders in the U.S. or in Europe have the opportunity to sell significant chunks of their debt portfolios to third parties. This means they only carry a portion of the risk of the loans they issue. In emerging markets, this is typically not the case. Lenders have to carry the entire credit risk on their own. A key driver for this difference lies in higher transaction costs and contractual uncertainties.
“The arrival of DeFi (decentralized finance) is a game-changer: transaction costs can be slashed while contractual certainty is increased by smart contracts. These are some of the risk-sharing instruments that we are now actively providing to lenders and borrowers”.
Nigerian Mobility Startup, Moove Secures $20M Financing From BII to Scale Operations in Nigeria
Moove, a mobility fintech democratising access to vehicle ownership in Africa has secured US $20 million in a 4-year structured credit investment from British International Investment (BII), the UK government’s Development Finance Institution (DFI), formerly known as CDC Group.
Moove is democratising access to vehicle ownership by providing revenue-based vehicle financing and financial services to mobility entrepreneurs. The mobility fintech is creating sustainable employment opportunities to empower those otherwise excluded from financial services by embedding its alternative credit scoring technology onto ride-hailing, e-logistics and instant delivery platforms, and using proprietary performance and revenue analytics to underwrite vehicle loans.
Since its launch in 2020, Moove has rapidly expanded its operations within Nigeria and has entered into new African markets including Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, as well as Europe, Middle East and Asia markets.
According to the mobility company, the collaboration between Moove and BII reflects BII’s focus on mobilising capital to build self-sufficiency and market resilience in Nigeria and improve access to inclusive economic opportunities while helping to catalyse the country’s boundless entrepreneurial ambition.
Investors King gathered that Moove was the first business to qualify for BII’s BOLD (Black Ownership and Leadership Development).
Speaking on the new funding, Ladi Delano, co-founder/ co-CEO at Moove, said, “we’re incredibly proud to welcome onboard a world-class partner such as BII, whose strategic support will play a key role in our mission to build the world’s largest integrated vehicle financing platform for mobility entrepreneurs.
“With our new funding, we’re now in an even stronger position to use our technology and productivity data in creating a more inclusive financing ecosystem, whilst also tackling the unemployment problem affecting over a third of Nigerians by generating the opportunity for more seamless and sustainable employment.”
The CEO of BII, Nick O’Donohoe commented on how BII’s new five-year strategy is driving its investment in the world’s first mobility fintech.
“Investing in the prosperity of Nigeria’s growing population requires innovative new partnerships that can leverage the country’s abundant capabilities and expertise. In Moove, BII has a partner that aligns with our commitment to back dynamic tech-enabled businesses that can help accelerate impact in Nigeria by strengthening the country’s informal transport industry,” he said.
“I am delighted that not only will BII’s investment help to create jobs and provide entrepreneurial self-starters with the means to own their vehicles, but Moove’s clear focus on gender diversity will foster inclusive economic opportunities for women, both within the company’s workforce and among its drivers,” he added.
Nigeria is the BII’s biggest investment market in Africa, with a portfolio of nearly US $570 million, through more than 100 businesses and 43 funds, which collectively support almost 45,000 jobs across the country in 2020.
MFS Africa Moves to Expand Operations, Raises Additional $100 Million
Africa’s leading payments start-up, MFS Africa has raised an additional $100 million in equity and debt to expand its operations across Africa and integrate into the global digital payment ecosystem.
The company has now raised a combined $200 million in its Series C round led by an African investment manager, Admaius Capital Partners. Also, investors like AfricInvest Five and CommerzVentures that participated in the first Series C round doubled down while Vitruvian Partners and AXA Investment Managers made the first investment in the company.
Stanbic IBTC Bank, a Lagos-based lender, and Symbiotic will finance MFS Africa’s debt.
Explaining the reason for the new investment, MFS Africa said the fund is meant to achieve four main objectives:
- To expand operations across Africa
- Integrate into the global digital payment ecosystem
- Expansion into Asia and create cross-border payments synergies with Africa via a joint venture with LUNa Partners
- And carry out its growth plans for BAXI, a startup it acquired late last year.
Last week, Financial Times reported that MFS Africa had acquired a U.S.-based Global Technology Partners (GTP) in a cash-and-shares deal estimated at $34 million, this acquisition set MFS Africa apart from other African startups and further highlighted the company’s acquisition for expansion strategy.
For instance, the BAXI acquisition has given MFS Africa access to the Payment Service Solution Provider (PSSB) and Payment Terminal Service Provider (PTSP) licenses. With the PSSP license, BAXI can build gateways that process payments for third parties and the PTSP license will allow the company to operate point of sale terminals for agency banking currently being pushed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Investors King stated.
Founder and CEO Dare Okoudjou explained that the strength of MFS Africa is in digital infrastructure building and several initiatives to provide access to Africans at home and in the diaspora.
“The strength of our business model is grounded on building a lasting digital infrastructure that unleashes and simplifies economic activities across the continent through any-to-any interoperability,” Okoudjou said in a statement. “Our multiple initiatives and solutions are providing access to Africans, at home and in the diaspora. We are building MFS Africa into a safe, sound, scalable and high-impact pan-African payment infrastructure that will facilitate Africa’s rapidly growing commerce, both now and in the future.”
Kwik Secures $2M in New Funding Round to Extend Services
The startup which is also based in France was launched in Lagos in 2019 with last-mile delivery service offered to B2B merchants and from social vendors to e-commerce platforms.
According to thee startup founder and CEO, Romain Poirot-Lellig, Kwik will use the funding in this new round to add a financial solution to its existing offerings. Other investors in this round include Humla Ventures, Nabuboto, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot and Pulse Africa founder Leonard Stiegeler.
Having established in Nigeria, the startup sets itself up for competition from known names like GoKada who also have a remarkable presence with its last-mile delivery offering in many parts of Nigeria. However, Kwik has also had a remarkable run since it was established in 2019. The startups has also launched in Nigeri’s capital territory, Abuja, where it also boasts of more than 100,000 merchants who use the platform – both on web and its mobile application – to run a number of logistical, commercial and financial needs of their businesses. And according to Romain, there are more than 75% weekly active users on the app.
With the fund raised, the startup wantf to make do on what the founder had earlier said about its product when he disclosed that Kwik wants to “bring the informal economy into the formal economy,” by focusing on last-mile delivery, e-commerce (warehousing and fulfilment) and the proposed financial services it is about to add.
Speaking about the startup offerings, Romain said: “Our goal is for Kwik to become the prime app choice for African social vendors and traditional merchants going digital. Integrating delivery, payment and e-commerce tools seamlessly in one easy-to-use mobile app is a catchy proposition. This financing round will enable us to expand across all three key verticals and select geographic areas. We are purely a software company. We create a community and a matchmaking playground. We ensure that we enforce the rules of the playground, both on the merchants’ side and on the partners’ side. The financing part is the last part we’re building. For the moment, we connect riders and financing institutions that are willing to finance bikes. On top of that, we’re going to launch a B2B lending marketplace by the end of the year to enable merchants to get financing.”
Investors King also gathered that the startup is aiming to use the funds to acquire more customers and expand its reach beyond Lagos and Abuja with plans already on the way for Ibadan, Kano, Port Harcourt and Kaduna.
Poirot-Lellig also disclosed that the company plans to increase the number of merchants on its platform to 800,000 by the end of 2022.
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