OZÉ, a Ghana-based fintech startup focused on helping African small businesses grow by digitizing their operations and providing them with access to affordable capital, closed a $700k Seed Round last week. In this round, venture funds like Anorak Ventures and Matuca Sarl and angel groups like Nigeria’s Rising Tide Africa joined existing investors Ingressive Capital and MEST. The fast-growing company will use the funding to grow their team, expand to Nigeria, and promote the newly launched iOS version of it’s business app.
In Ghana and across Sub-saharan Africa, many small businesses can’t access capital. In fact, the MSME credit gap in Sub-Saharan Africa is $331 billion. That means African lenders are missing out on up to $80 billion in annual interest income. Why? Because lending to MSMEs is hard. Many are still keeping records on paper, have no formal business education, no credit history, weak or no collateral, and/or opaque operations. OZÉ solves this problem. Its award-winning business app and proprietary credit risk algorithm make it profitable for banks to make no-collateral loans to MSMEs.
“The OZÉ Flywheel makes profitable lending to MSMEs possible for banks.” says Co-founder & CEO, Meghan McCormick. “Using OZÉ already screens for the type of entrepreneurs banks should want to lend to and as entrepreneurs keep using OZÉ they can access more funds at a lower risk to the bank.”
The OZÉ Business App makes keeping financial records habit-forming by making it fun. Users earn gold coins when they track sales and expenses, send digital receipts and invoices, and remind customers to pay what they owe, all from their smartphones. A business dashboard shows how the business is trending and a business coach is just a click away. Since OZÉ launched its beta app in Ghana in 2018, a growing number of active users and paying subscribers have recorded more than 250,000 transactions in the app (with a value of more than $50 million). In 2020, OZÉ piloted a small loan portfolio with no defaults and a projected annual 43% ROI.
“I couldn’t be more excited about what’s next for OZÉ,” says Co-founder & COO, Dave Emnett. “We’re integrating with Paystack and other PSPs to allow our SMEs to accept and send payments through the app and partnering with more financial institutions to expand on the success of OZÉ’s approach to lending.”
About OZÉ: OZÉ brings African small businesses into the digital era. Its business app makes it easy for MSMEs to track sales, expenses, and customer information. The data is analyzed to provide tailored recommendations, reports, and business education. As they are using OZÉ to manage their business and learn how to run it better, we are learning about them. Using this data and machine learning, we can predict their credit risk and provide them with affordable capital from our banking partners. With over 25,000 registered users, OZÉ is the largest online community of MSMEs in Ghana. The most exciting thing is that OZÉ works; 97% of businesses that have used OZE for at least 9 months are growing or profitable or both!