BY TOM JACKSON
Ugandan startup gnuGrid has increased the size of its seed funding round to US$612,500 as it pivots its product offering to move into the fintech space.
Launched in 2019 by David Opio and James Dailey, gnuGrid built Solar Sentra, which aimed to streamline and automate the highly fragmented solar industry in Uganda and beyond by using AI-optimised sensors to monitor solar systems and collect data on power usage which is used by solar companies to tailor service delivery.
gnuGrid bundled this hardware with digital payments, predictive analytics, customer profiling and data management, among others, to help solar companies operate more efficiently at lower cost.
Disrupt Africa reported in February the startup had kicked off the year with a capital raise, which it has since added to in order to close its seed round at US$612,500. The cash comes from a handful of individual angel investors, and gives gnuGrid a pre-money valuation of US$6.25 million. The startup initially raised US$50,000 in 2019 to develop its tech engine, pilot, and launch the product into the market.
Its product has, however, now changed, with gnuGrid saying it has pivoted to become a licensed credit reference bureau to help many informal financial and formal institutions de-risk their investment and build reputational collateral for the last-mile credit consumers or borrowers.
“gnuGrid has the system necessary to onboard the millions of unbanked/tier four consumers in Uganda – all of Africa, actually,” Opio said.
“It is the first-ever local credit reference bureau licensed by the Bank of Uganda to provide credit reference services to enable lenders to know how borrowers repay their loans.”
The seed funding has been used to set up data hosting servers and a state-of-the-art customer care service centre, onboard staff, build the CRB platform, and implement sales and marketing strategies. With the round now closed, gnuGrid is embarking on a US$10 million Series A raise, working with PwC.
“The US$10 million raise will go into scaling the CRB services to the last mile informal financial institutions, collecting data from several credit providers, expanding the data hosting infrastructure, enhancing data security and protection, onboarding more staff members, and scaling the CRB solution to other Africa countries, starting with Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia,” said Opio.