Kenya’s Asilimia raises $2m pre-seed fund to expand its SME credit services


Asilimia, a Kenyan fintech firm, has raised $2 million in pre-seed capital to expand its operations to new markets in East Africa and propel the company into its next phase of development.

The firm secured $1 million capital from a diverse group of investors, including Fredrik Jung Abbou (co-founder of Kry and Lendo), Norrsken Impact Accelerator, and other well-known European startups. 

Asimilia also raised $1 million in a debt round led by Bpifrance and GreenTec Capital Partners.

According to the company, it plans to utilize the funds to acquire people as it refines its technology and expands into other East African regions. 

It would also issue loans to micro, small, and medium-sized firms (MSMEs) based on data from its Leja app.

Asimilia Founders, Tekwane Mwendwa and Morgane Kablan

“We have entered a phase where we are exploring ways in which we can extend the much-needed credit, enabling traders to buy equipment or products to sustain their enterprises, ”

Asilimia co-founder and CEO, Tekwane Mwendwa.

The startup is taking advantage of this opportunity to give loans to these traders, providing more relief to a segment of the population that is frequently overlooked and seen as high-risk by regular banking institutions.

By delivering mobile loans, Asilimia will join a market of approximately 100 lending applications, including Branch by San Francisco-based Branch International Ltd. and PayPal-backed Tala.

Empowering small and medium enterprise

The company, co-founded in 2017 by Tekwane Mwendwa and Morgane Kablan, empowers small and medium enterprises by offering digital payment platforms that are affordable, simple to use, and personalized. 

According to the company, it is also developing digital infrastructure to link African SMEs to the official financial system.

Over the last three years, the Kenyan fintech company has provided a lifeline to Kenyan traders by allowing them to conduct mobile money transactions with no transfer fees via its Leja app.

Asilimia team in Nairobi, Kenya. 

The Leja app also provides bookkeeping, making it easier for traders to track their income and disbursements without the need for technical or accounting knowledge. 

Asilimia wants to use the data collected on the Leja app to construct credit scoring algorithms that will determine how much money will be granted to borrowers.

“We will factor in their b2b transactions, cash flow, sales, liabilities, and expenses because all this information is in the app. This is possible because traders love to use our app, which, unlike other lending apps, has inventory management. I like to think of our app as the operating system of informal businesses, and we are happy that it is a one-stop shop for traders, “said Mwendwa.

According to the company, the average user performs three transactions per day through the app, and the business is growing at a rate of 30% each week. 

Its apps are used by roughly 27,000 people, and the total amount of money that has been transacted through the Leja app is around $20 million.

The company has already completed the acclaimed Station F incubation program in Paris as well as the Norrsken Impact Accelerator program. 

The startup won the Africa Cup at the 2019 SA Innovation Summit and received a $350,000 investment from the Unicorn Group, a pan-African investment group, in 2019. It used the money to expand its business, including adding Leja to its portfolio. 

Asilimia is looking into expanding into other regions beyond East Africa in order to continue bridging the financial gap that traders across the continent are experiencing.

Speaking on the funding rounds, co-founder and managing director at Norrsken Impact Accelerator, Funda Sezgi, acknowledges that MSMEs play a vital role across Africa and making it easier for them to succeed is great for the continent as a whole. This is why Asilimia services are very important.

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