BY TOM JACKSON
Kenyan startup Weza.io, which provides alternative credit-scoring and fraud mitigation services to B2B and B2C lending clients, is reporting strong traction and hopes to see further growth off the back of another round of angel funding.
Formed in 2016, Weza.io initially focused on doing its own lending in order to understand the mobile lending space, learnings that have since allowed it to build out its own platform which it now offers as a white label solution to other businesses.
“We spotted the need for credit-scoring engines that can work for the unbanked and underbanked, who do not have banking data. To score their creditworthiness requires utilisation of alternative data such as the user’s mobile phone transaction data,” said co-founder Samuel Njuguna.
The startup has developed its own credit-scoring engine taking into account this type of data, but beyond simply increasing access to loans Weza.io is also looking at combating fraud in the digital lending space via in-built fraud mitigation algorithms.
“The models that have been there to curb fraud are primarily focused on bank agent-to-user mitigations. However, with digital lending where users can register from anywhere, we identified a need to have models that can check the user’s data to determine if he or she is a genuine customer,” Njuguna said.
By providing these services, the startup hopes to make it easier for companies to get into the digital lending space in Africa. Njuguna said building out such platforms successfully required an understanding of credit-scoring, fraud mitigation and infrastructure building, and Weza.io wanted to help by providing it.
“We realised businesses getting into lending had a steep learning curve that took an average of one year to get these three elements right. In the process the business would lose a lot of money to fraud and high defaults due to poor credit-scoring approaches,” he said.
Weza.io looks to provide a turnkey solution to help, and is targeting both B2B and B2C lending companies.
“We have customised our platform for both B2B clients, with some of these having over 5,000 merchants, and also for B2C clients as well, with some having over 100,000 registrations,” said Njuguna.
“The uptake has largely been organic, a conscious decision that we made at this early stage of our company. We are now looking for a more inorganic growth curve.”
This will be helped by the startup having secured angel investment, taking on board US$200,000 in 2017 and a top-up of US$232,000 from the same investors last year. Njuguna said Weza.io is currently working on a seed round that would allow it to scale its business, not only in Kenya but across Sub-Saharan Africa.
“We have deployed lending platforms, including the credit-scoring services, for companies in Kenya and Uganda, and we are currently implementing for other companies in Ghana and Cameroon,” he said.
“Our infrastructure can be customised for any market.”
The startup charges a standard fee for deploying the lending infrastructure and a user-based fee for every credit and fraud check completed.
“Our credit-scoring engine can be integrated into an existing lending system, through APIs,” Njuguna said.
“Revenues have been positive. We are adding more engineers in preparation for our inorganic growth curve across the Sub-Saharan region.”