TechInAfrica — Aella Credit, Nigerian micro-lending fintech startup, has secured $10 million from Singapore-based HQ Financial Group (HQF) in a debt-financing round. This funding is expected to boost the startup’s goal in serving the underbanked population in West Africa and other countries with emerging markets.
Founded by Akin Jones (CEO) and Akabi Wale (CTO) back in 2015, Aella has been consistent to its vision of building trustworthy credit for emerging markets. It has started out where the startup currently operates; Nigeria and the Philippines.
The company boasts 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 wide range 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.
The startup plans to use the newly raised $10-million fund through debt-financing to scale its lending operations and expand its product base into payments.
Previously, Aella has raised $2 million 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.
The company claims a significant growth with a 2-year compound annual user growth rate of 674 percent over the last two years, plus a 193 percent increase in revenue while maintaining a single-digit default rate.
In addition, 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.”
Aella will splash some of that cash in attempting to build new products including a blockchain-based lending market called Creditcoin.
The 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 also added.
Sun Han Gyu, Chief Executive Officer of HQF, which has deployed over $70 million 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”.
The company is completing its evolution to a full-service lending and payments platform with the latest raise. It is poised to play a greater role in providing a rich collection of financial services across Africa.
Aella now appears to focus on expansion across Africa and South East Asia, enabling users to access a wide range of fast, convenient, and secure financial services. Aella will allow users to have access to loans, invest safely and securely, affordable insurance plans, bill payments, and peer-to-peer money transfers with its app.