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Ghanaian lending platform Bloom Impact, which last week landed an undisclosed amount in seed funding from a Canadian fund, plans to enter three other African markets in the next three years.
“We are currently laser-focused on customer usage and growth, product enhancements and revenues in the coming months in order to successfully close a seed round in early 2018,” said Bloom Impact co-founder Carol Caruso in an email to Ventureburn yesterday.
Caruso said the startup has mapped out a forecast of two to three other countries for expansion in West Africa over the next three years, such as Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Senegal.
Bloom Impact co-founder says the startup is focused on customer growth, product enhancements and revenues to close a seed round in early 2018
The startup, which was registered in Ghana and the US earlier this year, runs a mobile platform that links Ghanaian small businesses to financial products such as savings and cheque and credit cards.
Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB Ventures) announced last Thursday that it had invested an undisclosed amount in the startup. Both Caruso and an EWB Ventures spokesperson Amber Minnings declined to disclose the investment amount.
Caruso, who commutes between Boston and Accra and runs the startup with fellow co-founder and Ghanaian David Hutchful, however added that EWB is a pre-seed and seed stage investor, and invests up to $100 000.
The company launched its beta minimum viable product (MVP) in the Google play store in August and Caruso said the startup and its eight-man team works with several bank partners and has already started processing micro and small business loans and savings account applications.
She said since the August launch, several hundred small business owners have been using the app, either looking for better savings options or working capital to expand their businesses. Customer loan sizes thus far range from 5000 to 20 000 Ghananian cedis ($1,100 to $4 500), she added.
The marketplace is accessible currently in Ghana from android smartphones and leverages machine learning and some other tech to allow small businesses to create a digital profile, learn about and apply for financial services.
“Our system analyses, validates and verifies data and then provides the customer with product options — these fully scored and validated leads are sent to the matched financial service providers.
“In addition to the tremendous convenience and cost savings we offer the small business owner, we are creating financially educated business owners which is critical for banks and other providers.
“For these financial service providers, such as banks and microfinance institutions, our solution disrupts customer acquisition by cutting costs and providing digital, eligible, validated, scored and financially-educated customers,” says Caruso.
The startup also has a referral system and has already received dozens of new customers through referrals.
“We are also promoting current accounts linked to mobile money which will allow better credit eligibility for customers by regularly using these formal transactional accounts for their business,” said Caruso.
“Right now we can easily handle over a million customers and we have designed the platform to be scalable for future country expansion,” she added.
Featured image: Screen grab from a Bloom Impact promotional video on www.bloomimpact.net