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SA lending startup Akiba Digital raises $1.1m pre-seed funding for scale

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Akiba digital

South African fintech startup Akiba Digital, which is lowering the barriers to entry to enable small businesses to unlock financing through their lending partners, has raised over US$1.1 million in pre-seed funding to help it grow its market share.

Founded in 2017, Akiba Digital enables lenders to better extend capital to small businesses and individuals, providing nuanced credit insights and real-time lending decisions.

The startup uses alternative datasets to provide inclusive scores that allow lenders to score people and small businesses that cannot be reached by traditional credit bureaus – a problem that affects nearly 80 per cent of small businesses and individuals in Africa.­

The US$1.1 million pre-seed funding round is led by Expert DOJO and Oui Capital, and also includes Basecamp Fund, Soma Capital, Hustle Fund, Future Africa, LoftyInc, a former PayPal executive, and a handful of angel investors. The cash will be used by Akiba Digital to grow its market share in South Africa and connect over 20,000 SMEs to lenders through its ecosystem.

“The fundraise will also help us assess other African markets that we are looking to scale into,” said Tebogo Mokwena, chief executive officer (CEO) of Akiba Digital.

“Our goal is to be in 10+ African markets in two to three years, enabling millions of small businesses and individuals to access better financing through our alternative scoring. Longer term we want to scale into South America and ultimately be one of Africa’s unicorns to IPO by 2027.”

Akiba Digital is already growing its revenues by 5X month-on-month, and has also launched an SME platform called Insyts that allows SMEs in need of funding to apply for business financing seamlessly and monitor their financial health on one platform. Meanwhile, in the wake of recent riots and looting in parts of South Africa, it has launched a Mandela Day initiative to zero-rate financing for 67 SMEs who have been badly affected by the problems.

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