Fintech start-up raises R15m to lower barriers to SME funding

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Tebogo Mokwena, co-founder and CEO of Akiba Digital.
Tebogo Mokwena, co-founder and CEO of Akiba Digital.

Local fintech start-up Akiba Digitalhas raised $1.1 million (R15 million) in pre-seed funding, which will be used to connect small businesses to lenders.

The pre-seed funding round is led by early-stage start-up acceleratorExpert DOJOand venture capital firmOui Capital, and also includes Basecamp Fund and Soma Capital, among other funding platforms.

The data-analytics start-up enables lenders to better extend capital to small businesses, by providing financial health intelligent tools, which enable SMEs to access better financing from lenders.

Akiba Digital uses alternative datasets to provide inclusive scores that allow lenders to score people and small businesses that can’t be scored by traditional credit bureau scores – which is a problem that affects nearly 80% of small businesses and individuals in Africa, according to the company.

The funding will be used to lower the barriers to entry for small businesses in SA to unlock financing through lending partners.

“This year, we launched a Mandela Day campaign to help 67 SMEs in July to rebuild after the recent disruptions in SA,” says Tebogo Mokwena, co-founder and CEO of Akiba Digital.

“We are looking to partner with lenders who want to help SMEs rebuild their businesses. Through this initiative we, as Akiba Digital, will be zero-rating the loans provided by lenders (who fund the loan fees) on behalf of the SMEs. Lenders who partner with us will get the SME leads that we score and vet using our lending intelligence solution.”

Akiba Digital recently launched the Insyts platform, which allows SMEs in need of funding to seamlessly apply online for financing and further monitor their financial health, all in one.

While the company says it plans to expand beyond local borders to assist African SMEs, its current objective is to build an inclusive financial ecosystem for SMEs throughout SA.

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