Nigerian Fintech, Brass Raises $1.7 Million To Support Its Expansion Into South Africa, Kenya
Brass will use the new capital to expand into South Africa and Kenya, just a year after its launch. Olugbenga’ GB’ Agboola (Co-Founder of Flutterwave) and Ezra Olubi are among the investors in the round (Co-Founder of Paystack, acquired by Stripe)
By Omotayo Olutekunbi
Brass, a Nigerian digital bank that provides small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with easy access to inexpensive premium banking services, has raised $1.7 million in funding to meet the unmet banking needs of local entrepreneurs, traders, and fast-growing firms. Olugbenga’ GB’ Agboola (Co-Founder of Flutterwave), Ezra Olubi (Co-Founder of Paystack, purchased by Stripe), Hustle Fund, Acuity Ventures, Uncovered Fund, and Ventures Platform are among the investors in the round.
Brass’ growth into South Africa and Kenya, which began barely a year after its establishment, will be aided by the new capital, which will spark a variety of new product categories, including an extension of the startup’s footprint in the credit market as it seeks to broaden its customer base. Brass, founded by Sola Akindolu (former Head of Product at Kudi) and Emmanuel Okeke (former Engineering Manager at Paystack) in July 2020, provides SMEs with a full-stack, commercial-grade banking service across various business classes, allowing them to gain greater clarity and control over their money operations as well as the ability to scale their businesses.
The platform now offers a comprehensive suite of products designed to meet a wide range of corporate banking needs, including credit and payment services, payroll and expense management, API support, and a slew of other key business services.
Brass has helped thousands of firms, has disbursed over $2 million in loans, and has recently introduced Brass Capital, a cash-flow financing service to help even more fast-growing companies. Many of Brass’ clients use the platform as their primary money transaction service provider, including Send.ng, Mono, and Eden, as well as restaurants, schools, and shopping malls.
Flutterwave has also partnered with the platform to help it expand across Africa.
Sola Akindolu, Co-Founder and CEO of Brass, says, “The basic needs of Africa’s SMEs are just as significant and unique as those of the customers they serve each day and now more than ever, we need innovative and world-class financial services solutions that meet their expectations. These local businesses have supported our economies for decades, forming the backbone of Africa’s success to date and now is the time to bet on them.”
“At Brass, we’ve made some great strides over the last year in tackling one of Africa’s most critically underserved customer bases, but with an estimated $5.1tn credit gap globally, our work is far from over. This is why we’re delighted to welcome onboard a number of vastly experienced and strategic investors, whose expertise will not only play a vital role ahead of our expansion into South Africa and Kenya but also in our future ambitions outside of the continent.”
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 99 percent of all businesses in Nigeria; however, many of them face the same major roadblock that has left 55 percent to 68 percent of formal SMEs in emerging markets underserved by financial institutions: a severe lack of affordable, high-quality, and uniquely tailored financial services. As a result, these enterprises are primarily constrained to costly and frequently ineffective traditional banking services, or they stay unbanked due to lack of access or expense. This has resulted in a credit gap of $5.1 billion for SMEs in Nigeria and other emerging economies, as well as a severe shortage of tools for small businesses to understand their financial operations and make crucial business decisions.
Kola Aina, Founder and General Partner at Ventures Platform, says “We were immediately sold on Brass’s mission to make banking work for small businesses. For far too long, banks have not worked for their customers. This challenge is even more chronic for small businesses. Hence we are excited to be a Brass partner as they advance the mission to make banking work for African businesses – via their suite of products designed to help businesses succeed.”
Brass’ past investments have included Olumide Soyombo of Voltron Capital, Leonard Stiegeler, Fola Olatunji-David, Yemi Lawani, and two senior executives from leading Nigerian banks, among others.
Access to comprehensive banking solutions services is currently one of the most significant restrictions for SMEs in Africa, with an estimated annual financing shortfall of over $136 billion in the continent’s formal SME sector. According to the World Bank, these enterprises employ 80% of Africa’s population, demonstrating their importance to the local economy and emphasizing their need for more assistance.
Lexi Novitske, Managing Partner at Acuity Ventures, closes “The real market opportunity in digital banking in Africa is enabling small businesses. These businesses are looking for tools to scale responsibly; with a Brass partnership, they can grow alongside a committed partner for the long term. Meanwhile, data sources in Africa are still nascent. Brass’s suite of products including payments and dashboard services not only give small local businesses transparency and efficiency over their operations but enable Brass to provide banking products that meet the needs of these customers at lower risk.”
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