OZÉa Ghanaian fintech that provides digital record-keeping tools with embedded financial products to mid-sized and small businesses, raised $3 million in pre-Series A round.
The new startup funding round was led by European early stage VC Speedinvest, with participation from Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund, Savannah Capital and other unnamed angel investors. This news follows Initial funding of $700,000 OZÉ guaranteed last year.
In the last 18 months, several startups serving medium and small companies with credit, bookkeeping tools and an operating system to manage its operations have increased immensely. Some of them include Kippa, Bumpa and Sabi Cash.
But OZÉ launched some time ago before the space became hot due to new investor interest in African startups.. CEO Meghan McCormick and COO Dave Emnett founded the company in 2018 after a series of trips McCormick took across Africa, where he realized the challenges small businesses face and their dire need for financial and record-keeping tools. to prosper.
“Working like this closely with small business owners, I understood the problems they faced. And having seen how small businesses in the US operated as a kid, and seeing the kind of technology stack or service stack that SMBs have over there, I had a good understanding of the solution set,” McCormick said in a call with the Ploonge.
“And by putting these two things together, we were able to create a platform adapted to today’s realities. But also really pushing for what is possible for entrepreneurs in Ghana and Nigeria who have a smartphone in their pocket.”
OZÉ boasts a customer base of over 125,000 entrepreneurs in Ghana and Nigeria. this number is only a drop in the ocean of over 100 million small businesses across West Africa that OZÉ says is its addressable market. Traditionally these companies operated like physical companies, running on pen and paper. Now, as they look to build online presences, the demand for technology and financial products to digitize businesses is increasing.
OZÉ’s business app helps these medium and small businesses gather sales, expenses, accounts payable, accounts receivable and customer data. These data is analyzed to support businesses from personalized recommendations, reports, to daily business tips, monthly business seminars, and access to an on-demand business coach.
Based on how companies use the platform, OZÉ generates performance and behavior data, which is used to predict their credit risk and create alternative credit scores. The startup partners with financial institutions (banks and fintechs) to lend to companies in need of loans.
“OZÉ’s methods and relationship with entrepreneurs mean that loans made through the platform can be unsecured, larger and repaid over a longer period of time without increasing risk,” the company said in a statement.
In the call, McCormick said the credit is principally provided to customers who have been active on the OZÉ app for at least 30 days. The more robust the behavioral component and credit score of the business, the longer that business will have, she said. Additionally, companies on the platform receive an average loan of $5,000 while paying up to 36% APR.
Similar platforms provide credit and record-keeping services, but McCormick is quick to point out what makes his company stand out. “I think that the tight integration between record keeping, credit and now payments is a real competitive factor in terms of the business model we can run. And that sets off a flywheel in the way that only be a record holder and company or only being a digital lender wouldn’t be,” said the chief executive.
“Most small businesses know they must keep records. But keeping any record, digital or otherwise, is a behavior change. And so, we build a solid foundation of behavioral science in our app so that OZÉ becomes a habit.”
Positioning OZÉ as a business coach, partner and advisor on their platform ensures they have access to a community of other entrepreneurs, learn, grow and trade together. The platform is trying to take this idea of making accounting social, she said.
On the credit side, OZÉ can exploit companies’ cash-based performance data and offer better loans after gaining psychological information about automatically recorded transactions.
The Ghanaian fintech recently launched a payments integration to allow its business to receive payments on the platform. In Ghana, businesses can accept payments via mobile money or card and bank transfer or card in Nigeria. According to the company, businesses that use OZÉ as a payment option rather than using other platforms or cash will have higher credit limits and lower interest rates.
Last year, OZÉ’s monthly active users grew by 1,200%. The company said the number of loans granted on the platform also increased by 200% from Q3 to Q4 2021. OZE also claims that 97% of business owners using the platform run a growing, profitable, or both business..
On the company’s next steps following its recent funding, McCormick said OZÉ will build its team, acquire more customers, deepen its presence in Ghana and Nigeria and begin expansion plans into new African markets.