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Kenyan fintech startup Zanifu raises $1M funding, eyes Ghana and Uganda expansion


Kenyan fintech startup Zanifu has closed a $ 1 million seed round to scale its business and improve on its platform, which provides short-term working capital loans to MSME’s in the FMCG Supply Chain.

Zanifu also plans to enable financial access for more than 15000 FMCG retailers in the next 12 months.

Founded in 2017 by Steve Biko and Sebastian Mithika, Zanifu has disbursed over 85,000 loans worth over $13M to over 7,000 MSME’s in Kenya. The startup is one of a few digital B2B lenders in Kenya, specializing in MSME loans. Similar companies in the African Tech ecosystem include Numida in Uganda and Pay Hippo in Nigeria.

The round, which was over-subscribed, included Saviu Ventures, which invested in a pre-seed round in early 2020. Others who participated include Launch Africa Ventures, Sayani Investments & Angel investors from Kenya and Nigeria, including founders and executives of some of the top tech start-ups in Africa.

Steve Biko, who also serves as the company’s Chief Operating Officer said they are bolstering their team and continuously iterating their platform to enable them to onboard and serve MSME’s faster.

“We serve FMCG retailers, especially the ones that are too small access traditional bank finance for their businesses. The only option these MSME’s have been digital consumer loans, which are not always suitable for them. We are filling a critical gap in providing stock financing, which is enabling small businesses to grow their turnovers by more than 40%.” he said.

“In Kenya, there are about 5 million MSME’s of which only 1 million are formally registered, and World Bank estimates there is a $20B financing gap here alone. In Sub Saharan Africa, the theme is amplified with a finance gap of $331B & over 44M formal MSME’s” Zanifu co-founder Sebastian Mithika said.

The informal businesses in Kenya are an integral part of the economy contributing 33.8% of the country’s GDP and providing 83.4% of employment outside of small-scale agriculture. However, access to financing remains the main impediment to growth for these micro and small businesses. And thus, over the last few years fintech companies like Zanifu have introduced products that are tailored to the financing needs of the MSMEs.

Zanifu works with a number of manufacturers and distributors to extend the credit to these small businesses with retailers already sourcing products from the startup’s partners qualifying for the financing. Zanifu has created platforms for manufactures, distributors and retailers that ensure seamless ordering, payment, tracking and fulfillment.

Retailers borrow through Zanifu’s loan app, where they upload information that includes historical purchase data. The retailers are then assigned a credit limit, after its algorithm scores them, within six hours after signing up. Retailers have up to a month to pay back the loans, which attract an interest rate of 3.5 to 5%.

Zanifu, which has a presence throughout Kenya, is now eyeing Ghana and Uganda.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech, business and African startups. Founder and Editor For TechTrendsKE. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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