Fintech start-up, Aella raises US$10m to improve financial inclusion in West Africa

NIGERIA – Nigerian fintech startup focused on improving financial inclusion for West Africa’s low-income segment, Aella has raised a $10m debt financing round.

The debt financing round was led by HQ Financial Group (HQF), Singapore-based private company specializing in new material science, semiconductor and blockchain financial investments.

This debt financing round is Aella’s second raise and the company says that it will bolster its commitment to serve the underbanked population in West Africa and other emerging markets.

“Lack of access to credit and financial services has been the main impediment to MSME growth and poverty reduction in several emerging economies,” notes Aella CEO, Akin Jones.

Jones further notes that 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.

According to Jones, the raise in its working capital “will allow us scale our expansion across Africa quickly”.

Aella, a micro-lending fintech provides a broader array of financial products — savings, insurance, payments and specialized loans to millions of poor and low income earners in West Africa.

The beneficiaries who include entrepreneurs and nascent businesses now have access to financial services and this has played a role in lifting this category of the population out of poverty.

Sun Han Gyu, Chief Executive Officer of HQ Financial Group said “Our partnership with Aella Credit 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 $10m to new growth opportunities in Africa and South Asia”.

Aella was founded in late 2015 by Akin Jones and Akanbi Wale in Lagos, Nigeria and has remained committed to building trustworthy credit for emerging markets with an initial focus on Nigeria and the Philippines, where the company is licensed to operate.

Aella has made a visible impact on the lives of more than 300k borrowers across its Employer Backed and Direct to Consumer Verticals, who now have access to simple financial products.

Aella plans to use this funding to scale its lending operations and expand its product base into payments.

Aella says that it will also invest in new products including a blockchain-based lending market called Creditcoin, to build borrower creditworthiness and aid in the acquisition of one million additional users by the end of 2020.

If successful, the initiative will make Aella the largest blockchain backed financial services project that is currently operational.

Aella previously raised $2m seed funding at the US startup program, Y Combinator which enabled it invest in digitalization and technology.

Over the last two years, the company has achieved significant growth with a 2-year compound annual user growth rate of 674%, over 193% increase in revenue and maintained a single-digit default rate.

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.

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