Nigerian micro-lending fintech startup, Aella Credit, has raised USD 10 Mn from Singapore-based HQ Financial Group (HQF) in a debt-financing round that would boost the startup’s bid to serve the underbanked population in West Africa and other emerging markets.
Since Akin Jones (CEO) and Akabi Wale (CTO) co-founded Aella back in 2015, the company has stayed true to its vision of building trustworthy credit for emerging markets having started out with Nigeria and the Philippines where the startup currently operates.
Aella claims to have made a visible impact on the lives of more than 300,000 borrowers across its Employer-Backed and Direct-to-Consumer Verticals, who now have access to simple financial products.
Aella provides a broad array of financial products — savings, insurance, and specialized loans — specifically tailored for the needs of low-income households, entrepreneurs, and early-stage businesses in West Africa and beyond, with a view to lifting many out of poverty.
Aella plans to use the USD 10 Mn raised through debt-financing to scale its lending operations and expand its product base into payments.
Aella has previously raised USD 2 Mn seed funding at the US startup program, Y Combinator, from seed investors including Micheal Seibel of Y Combinator, Brian Armstrong of Coinbase, Bill Paladino (former Head of Naspers eCommerce), Tae Oh, Shawntae Spencer (former San Francisco 49ers Cornerback), VY Capital, 500 Startups, Gluwa, and others, which enabled it to invest in digitalization and technology.
Over the last two years, the company boasts significant growth with a 2-year compound annual user growth rate of 674 percent, plus a 193 percent increase in revenue while maintaining a single-digit default rate.
As an additional feather in its hat, Aella was also recognized by Amazon as one of the world’s leading financial organizations pioneering the use of facial recognition technology for customer authentication and credit scoring.
“Lack of access to credit and financial services has been the main impediment to MSME growth and poverty reduction in several emerging economies, said Aella CEO, Akin Jones.
“Aella’s commitment to providing trustworthy credit to millions of people in the world’s emerging markets is improving financial inclusion, enabling MSME expansion and accelerating economic growth and this raise will allow us to scale our expansion across Africa quickly.”
It is also understood that Aella will splash some of that cash in attempting to build new products including a blockchain-based lending market called Creditcoin.
This product will help to build borrower creditworthiness and aid the company in reaching its goal of acquiring one million additional users by the end of 2020, which could see it become the largest blockchain-backed financial services project that is currently running.
“We are building a one-stop app for all transactions partnered with regulated industry leaders to help distribute products faster, better and cheaper to end-users in Nigeria and across the markets we plan to launch. This app will allow users to access multiple financial services at low costs compared to what is currently available in the market”, Jones added.
Sun Han Gyu, Chief Executive Officer of HQF, which has deployed over USD 70 Mn in investments since 2015, said “We are excited to announce our partnership with Aella Credit which will significantly aid in the proliferation of micro-loan services to the underserved African populations who are unable to access banking services.
“HQF is impressed with their outstanding growth with very low default rate in the micro-loan business in Nigeria and look forward, through this initial investment of USD 10 Mn to new growth opportunities in Africa and South Asia”.
With the latest raise, Aella is completing its evolution to a full-service lending and payments platform, poised to play a greater role in providing a rich collection of financial services across Africa.
The company now seems to be focused on expanding across Africa and South East Asia enabling users to access a wide range of fast, convenient, and secure financial services. Through its app, Aella will allow users to have access to loans, invest safely and securely, affordable insurance plans, bill payments, and peer-to-peer money transfers.