Absa Kenya partners with Melanin Kapital to support startups

KENYA – Absa Bank Kenya has joined hands with Pan African impact investment platform Melanin Kapital, to launch an investor readiness program for startups, reports The Star.

The initiative places startups driving social impact on the path to accessing up to Sh3 million (US$27,181) in unsecured lending.

Dubbed Tuungane2x to See Her Empowered, it is expected to reach 1,000 women-focused startups and enhance financial inclusion by providing them with financial training, investment-readiness capacity building, structured mentorship, structured networking, and access to finance. 

The partnership leverages Absa Bank’s expertise as a holistic financial services institution and Melanin Kapital’s knowledge in the field of impact investment.

This is especially in connecting entrepreneurs to impact investors through providing them with funding partnerships, investor readiness training and mentorship.

Absa Bank’s business banking director Elizabeth Wasunna noted that it has been risky for investors and lenders to invest in small-scale businesses, due to various reasons that also curtail their growth.

They include lack of correct structures and documentation, collateral, relevant networks and track record among other challenges, she said.

“This partnership is as a result of feedback we have received from SMEs across Kenya and especially start-ups and through it, we seek to address some of those bottlenecks with the aim of ensuring that they can survive after their third birthday and beyond,” Wasunna said.

Melanie Keïta, Melanin Kapital’s CEO said: “As a Pan African digital impact-investment platform, Melanin Kapital aims at making finance possible for early-stage impact businesses by de-risking them, making them investable and connecting them to impact-driven capital.”

The firm, Keïta said, aims at bridging the SDG financial gap by channeling more investments towards early-stage entrepreneurs operating in Africa, looking for pre-seed, seed as well as funding that focuses on solving a critical social impact challenge.

“Melanin Kapital aims at making finance possible for early-stage impact businesses by de-risking them, making them investable and connecting them to impact-driven capital"

Melanie Keïta - CEO, Melanin Kapital Tweet

As part of the partnership, Melanin Kapital has engaged with international like-minded partners to de-risk the credit facilities to the start-ups, enabling Absa Bank to offer favorable unsecured loans, ranging from between Sh100,000 (US$906) and Sh3 million (US$27,181).

To qualify for funding, interested startups will have to access and register through the online program management platform – Tuungane 2X – and undertake a six-month investment readiness program, that will culminate into project pitches to impact investors as well as to Absa Bank. 

For Absa, this initiative is part of an ongoing campaign targeting to impact over 1 million women entrepreneurs over the next five years, through the Absa She Business Account.

Under the platform, the bank offers financial and non-financial solutions designed to accelerate business growth.

“As a bank, we have maintained a strong inclination and commitment towards expanding the role and influence of women in businesses and our partnership with Melanin Kapital is yet another of many of such activities we engage in,” Wasunna said.

She said the listed lender is committed to continue supporting Micro and Small Enterprises to develop resilience mechanisms, to enable them to withstand different social, economic and political circumstances. 

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