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Bright On Startup Raises R10m In funding From RMI


Photo : Bright On Capital Founder And Co Founder Tsepo Headbush and Koena Headbush
According to a 2018 World Bank report, 66% of Sub-Saharan Africans are unbanked. Financial inclusion remains elusive in Africa and most times access to it for micro, small and medium-sized businesses remain a key challenge for these to scale.

In South Africa, where various studies have identified racial profiling as one of the impediments for the previously disadvantaged, raising funding remains a thorny issue. In 2018, we collaborated with the World Bank to do research on SME finance gaps in South Africa and the result deepened our understanding of the challenges because even though there are so many financial instruments and institutions, access to funding for seed and micro/small enterprises remains limited or tightly wrapped in red tape.

Recently, Bright On raised R10m from Alpha Code, Rand Merchant Investment Holdings’ investment vehicle for high impact start-ups. Bright On is an online peer to peer lending platform that provides affordable working capital for emerging small businesses with growth prospects. It has grown its SME lending book to over R25m and expects the lending book to exceed R50m by early 2020, potentially increasing to R100m in 2021. The Bright On team has grown from its initial two co-founders, Tsepo and Koena Headbush, to six permanent staff.

Start-up entrepreneurs like Tsepo and Koena are always inspiring to watch. Having launched their businesses a few years ago and joining the ecosystem at 22 on Sloane for the past two years, it’s been a proud pleasure to share their story. I believe that all start-ups need is a vibrant ecosystem that provides them both the room and the platform to rise to the next level. Basically, an inspiring space of trusted peers, advisors, mentors and a conducive environment to keep thriving, which I believe we strive to always achieve at 22 on Sloane. Yet Tsepo maintains that “our limited success is your success and I have expressed this sentiment a number of times to a number of people in your team”.

Today at 22 on Sloane, we gathered all our startups to celebrate Tsepo and his team’s extremely motivating journey. At 22 on Sloane, our campus manager often complained that Tsepo always exceeds his monthly hour allocation for meeting rooms, but I guess the proof is in the pudding. We also pay homage to Alpha Code who have entrusted them with the funding to scale and grow their client base.

As the banking trends of consumers continue to change, start-ups in Africa must find new, user-friendly, frictionless and mobile ways to bank the unbanked by exploiting technology. Business opportunities in the fintech space are plentiful and some of the start-ups that have disrupted it in Africa prove that there is more opportunity for new products to serve the African population. Startups such as M-Pesa, Flutterwave, Yoco, Bright On and many more are proof of this.

I have always believed that the goal for startups is to find ways to disrupt the various formal and informal markets, improve user experience, create new economies and ensure access for the previously disadvantaged.

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

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