3 South African fintech startups just scored R23 million in loans – including one that invests in cows

 ·2 Sep 2019

AlphaCode, Rand Merchant Investment Holdings (RMI)’s incubation, acceleration and investment vehicle has awarded R23 million supplier development loans to three fintech startups, Zande Africa, Bright On Capital and Livestock Wealth.

“We have granted Zande and Bright On, with whom we’ve been associated for over four years, around R10 million in supplier development loans each and Livestock Wealth has been granted R2 million,” said Dominique Collett, head of AlphaCode.

“Businesses like these don’t always get the funding they require to grow from commercial funders but as part of our commitment to partner and grow financial services startups, we’ve leveraged our supplier development spending to support them.”

Zande Africa started in 2016 with just two founders, Siya Ntutela and Mdu Thabethe. The business provides trade and merchant finance to spaza shops to enable stock purchases. It now has a turnover of R17 million with 71 staff and it is about to open a third depot in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, after growing its operations in Nelspruit and Ermelo.

Bright On Capital is an online peer-to-peer lender that provides affordable working capital funding to emerging small supplier businesses with sustainable growth prospects.

It has grown its SME lending book beyond R25 million and expects the lending book to exceed R50 million by early 2020, increasing to potentially R100 million in 2021. The team has grown from the initial two co-founders, Tsepo and Koena Headbush, to six permanent staff.

Currently four additional candidates are being recruited to join the sales and credit teams, AlphaCode said.

Livestock Wealth has pioneered investment in cows since October 2015 and now has over 2000 cows at various partner-farms. These are valued at over R40 million and managed like an investment portfolio on behalf of 1200 local and international investors.

Ntutela, chief executive officer of Zande Africa said he plans to use the loan for working capital to set up the third depot and to improve his technology platform. Headbush, CEO of Bright On Capital, said the loan will be used to grow its SME lending book, to develop distribution channels and to grow market reach.

Livestock Wealth, CEO, Ntuthuko Shezi said: “We are using this loan to build our team. We have been part of AlphaCode since 2015 when we won R500 000 at a pitch evening. At that stage, we only had 26 customers. We have grown to over a thousand customers. Our platform has grown to become a dependable supplier to large off-takers such as Woolworths.

“We have also grown beyond cows into a platform that connects farmers with investors where the investor owns real, high value, agricultural assets. These assets grow in the farmer’s care and earn profits when the products are sold at maturity.”

Read: This app allows you to invest in cattle – here’s how much it costs

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