Bright On Startup Raises R10m In funding From RMI
KIZITO OKECHUKWU | SEPTEMBER 17, 2019
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.
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.
Last week, 22 on Sloane start-up campus warmly welcomed the French community to celebrate the launch of La French Tech Johannesburg. Among those in attendance included the French Ambassador to South Africa, Aurelien Lechevallier, the MMC for the City of Johannesburg, Cllr Leah Knot, French tech leaders, Christophe Viarnaud and Antoine Paillusseau, as well as 200 guests
I was invited by Helvetas to spend last week in Switzerland where I delivered a keynote address on the power of the informal sector to drive job creation and ignite entrepreneurship in Africa.
After the recent spates of attacks on foreign and local-owned shops in South Africa, policymakers are now trying to regulate industries in which foreign businesses can or cannot operate.