ImpactAlpha, October 5 – Small and medium-sized businesses create four out of five jobs in emerging markets and are key to delivering many of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. Still, SMEs have a hard time accessing capital to operate and grow.
To close the small business lending gap in Southeast Asia, Philippines-based First Circle has raised $26 million in a Series A round led Venturra Capital. Insignia Ventures Partners, Silverhorn Investment Advisors and Tryb Group also joined.
The online lending firm maps “borrowers’ trading relationships for size and diversity. This enables us to understand the strength of their cash flows,” CEO Patrick Lynch told TechinAsia. Potential borrowers upload purchase orders and receipts and once verified, can access financing within 48 hours. Since the beginning of the year the firm has lent $75 million, with a default rate of around 1%.
First Circle will use the funding to expand across the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia, as well as increase its capital base to over $100 million in 2019. The company raised $1.3 million last year.