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JUMO first SA startup to be selected for Google Launchpad Accelerator


South African fintech startup JUMO has become the first South African startup to be selected by Google for its Launchpad accelerator.

The announcement was made yesterday by Google on the Google Developers Blog, with JUMO chosen alongside 32 other startups, including five others from Africa, to join the accelerator.

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As part of being selected onto the accelerator JUMO’s leaders will embark upon a two-week bootcamp at Google’s headquarters in California from 17 to 28 July, while the startup will get six months ongoing support and mentorship and $50,000 in funding.

Speaking to Ventureburn from Myanmar, where he is investigating new business opportunities, JUMO founder and CEO Andrew Watkins-Ball said he was excited as the announcement served as a “high benchmark” to affirm the hard work the company had put in.

Read more: Google’s Launchpad Accelerator now accepting African startups

He said the accelerator would put the company in touch with some of the brightest people working in analysing and using data and allow his team to gain more insight into the workings of Google’s Android mobile platform.

‘Opportunity will allow fintech startup more insight into workings of Android’

This, he said, would help grow the startup which he described as “an intelligence machine and software as infrastructure” firm), which analyses large amounts of user data and then makes predictions based on this to lend to borrowers.

More exactly JUMO acts as a marketplace by bundling loan products from the continent’s main banks and selling these to entrepreneurs and consumers who source the finance via mobile phones. The company works with a number of banks and mobile operators — including MTN, Airtel and Tigo — to reach customers.

To determine whether someone is fit to borrow or not, the company uses any one of a 100 types of data — from who is part of ones network, how one interacts with ones cellphone and mobile wallet transactions, to even how often users recharge their phone.

The company currently has close to five million clients across six countries (of which Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia are its largest markets) and is working on broadening its offering by including savings products.

Since its inception in 2015 the company has disbursed 17 million loans. In all 80% of its clients are small businesses. Loans range from as small as two dollars up to $50,000.

Watkins-Ball expects the company would secure between 10% and 25% of the loans market in Africa and points out that there are over 100 million people who could potentially benefit from the service in the countries the company currently covers.

Between January 2015 to date, the company has grown from seven to 300 employees, and now has development offices in Cape Town, Nairobi and Portugal.

Watkins-Ball said the spread of offices allowed the company to take advantage of affordable talent from a number of regions, adding that while he lives in London, talent in Portugal is arguably better and available at about a third of the cost.

JUMO has received several rounds of funding, mainly from institutional investors in Scandinavia, however Watkins-Ball would not disclose the amount of funding received so far, adding only that it was “a substantial amount in dollars”.

The company is currently operating in Pakistan and Watkins-Ball is touring Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand to look at the potential that these markets hold. He described the region as similar to Africa in that there is a low penetration of banking and poor infrastructure, yet an encouraging appetite for digital offerings.

Featured image: From left to right – Aveshan Govender (Director Engineering), Martin Vogdt (Chief Product Officer), Andrew Watkins-Ball (CEO) and Steve Etherton (COO) (Supplied)

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