Lulalend, South Africa’s first online automated provider of short-term funding for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), announced its Series A financing of $6.5 million. The new funding will provide growth capital to help Lulalend scale in response to South Africa’s significant funding gap for small businesses.
The round was co-led by IFC and Quona Capital, a leading fintech firm whose funds are sponsored by Accion, with participation from existing investors Accion Venture Lab and Newid Capital.
After the announcement, Heavy Chef spoke to Johan Bosini of Quona Capital: “We feel that this is an important investment for the South African ecosystem. We have invested in numerous SME lenders around the world, and have seen the significant positive impact they can have. In South Africa, this is no different, with SMEs playing a critical role in job creation and economic growth.”
Heavy Chef asked Bosini how this investment would impact the South African economy, “South African SMEs have been underserved for a long time,” said Bosini. “Access to working capital has been one of the largest constraints to growth. Traditional facilities typically do not take into account the reality of running a small business, especially speed and flexibility.”
Lulalend was established in 2014 by co-founders Trevor Gosling and Neil Welman. Unlike traditional financial institutions, Lulalend allows SMEs to apply for and receive funding without visiting a bank branch. It’s lending decisions are automated, and financing provided within 24 hours. Leveraging data from alternative and online sources, Lulalend utilizes a proprietary scoring algorithm that allows it to evaluate applicants and provide funding to SMEs quickly, conveniently, and transparently. Often the funding supplied by Lulalend to small and medium-sized businesses is used for inventory or equipment, renovations, or marketing.
This fundraiser is a beacon of hope from SME’s in South Africa and catapults Lulalend to the top end of Lenders available to South Africans. We hear from Trevor Gosling, co-founder, and CEO of Lulalend:
“69 percent of small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa say that access to working capital would help their businesses grow. However, for years in South Africa, there’s been a massive funding gap for small-and-medium enterprises, the very lifeblood of the economy. This fundraiser from Quona Capital, a leading VC globally in emerging markets fintech, and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, provides us with the growth capital and support we need to scale and drive exciting partnerships.”
“Quona Capital has been excited about Lulalend from the very earliest stage,” said Johan Bosini, Quona Capital partner. “Lulalend has built a seamless user experience that solves a massive funding gap faced by so many SMEs in South Africa -- enabling SMEs to grow and thrive, rather than getting stuck due to lack of working capital. We’re happy to partner with the IFC to fund this growing company.”
Quona Capital is a venture capital firm focused on fintech for inclusion in emerging markets, leveraging a strategic relationship with Accion, a nonprofit financial inclusion pioneer. Accion’s seed-stage investment initiative Accion Venture Lab first invested in Lulalend in 2016 and made a follow-on investment in this round.
“Lending to SME’s is changing, and by partnering with digital innovators like Lulalend, we can capitalize on new sources of data and models to deliver finance to reach more small businesses in South Africa. Thus driving job creation and economic growth,” said Kevin Njiraini, IFC’s Regional Director for Southern Africa and Nigeria.
The partnership with Lulalend is part of IFC’s comprehensive program to deepen small business development and promote access to finance to improve economic inclusion and create job opportunities.
More About Lulalend:
Founded in 2014 by Trevor Gosling and Neil Welman, Lulalend was created to provide SMEs in South Africa with the best possible funding for their businesses. To do this, Lulalend utilizes proprietary credit scoring technology, which enables it to offer quick decisions, fast financing, and transparent pricing to SMEs. For more information, visit https://www.lulalend.co.za/.
More About Quona Capital:
Quona Capital is a scale-up stage venture firm focused on fintech for inclusion in emerging markets. Quona partners have deep experience as investors and operators in both emerging and developed markets and look for entrepreneurs whose companies have the potential to provide outstanding financial returns and promote breakthrough innovation in financial inclusion. To date, Quona has supported more than 20 financial technology companies expanding access for underserved consumers and small businesses in Latin America, South and Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Quona got its start through a strategic relationship with Accion, a global nonprofit with a pioneering legacy in microfinance and fintech impact investing. The firm has offices in Washington D.C., Bangalore, Cape Town, Mexico City, and Singapore. For more information, visit quona.com.
IFC is a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create exchanges and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In the fiscal year 2018, we delivered more than $23 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty, and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org