April 13, 2024

Founded in 2017 by Hilda Moraa, Pezesha offers a B2B digital lending infrastructure focused on providing affordable working capital to financially excluded SMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Pezesha’s name comes from the two acronyms Pesa and Wezesha to mean Capital Enabler in Swahili.

They are all about Africans empowering other Africans. We provide a holistic trusted financial crowdfunding infrastructure that connects investors to quality MSMEs.

Partners integrate seamlessly with Pezesha’s APIs and offer credit and other financial services to their merchant network at the point of sale.

 Its credit-scoring APIs act as the engine of a simple but robust process where MSMEs receive real-time loan offers to purchase stock and pay later. 

In the last few years, Pezesha has grown the value of its disbursements by over 2,000 percent and disbursed more than 100,000 loans to MSMEs in Kenya, Uganda, and Ghana. 

Their headquarters are in Kenya. Pezesha has created a holistic digital financial infrastructure that is on a mission to be the leading enabler platform and marketplace that connects small and medium-sized businesses to working capital through a collaborative approach where banks, MFIs, and other financial institutions or networks can connect on our platform to be matched with quality SMEs driving meaningful financial inclusion and reducing any inequalities on access to formal financial services.

How it Works

Anyone who lends their money to Pezesha for lending to borrowers qualified by Pezesha. Pezesha is a trusted intermediary who ensures risk mitigation for lenders or investors on the platform. 

For one to be part of a merchant network they need Ksh. 5,000 ($50) to buy weekly stock for their small kiosk in a low-income neighborhood in Nairobi.

They do not have the cash available to buy their products and therefore they have to temporarily close their business, although they know they would have Ksh. 10,000 in a month from their revenues.

Through the Pezesha mobile platform, they request a loan from Pezesha, which conducts an automated credit score in 30 seconds with transaction data obtained from their merchant partner and then sources the amount from the capital.

Through Pezesha’s matching algorithms, they are then automatically matched with multiple investors to fund her working capital needs in a matter of minutes.

The clients can then grow their business, and improve their credit rating, paying back with mobile money.

Direct Integration with Supply Chain partners

They are directly plugged into the merchant partner database where we can see every level of transactional data of the borrower and partner network to enable embedded finance that drives productive lending.

Risk Minimization

Pezesha has deployed a robust proprietary credit scoring infrastructure, capable of processing conventional and unconventional wider data sets to identify credible underserved borrowers. 

The ability to identify these credible borrowers helps to minimize the risk that investors on our platform stand to face.

Pezesha Benefits

Solid returns of targeted 10%-15% per year APR, compared to money market options of 3-7% APR.

Ability to choose your portfolio structure and preference based on your risk appetite.

Investment & Investors

Their investment strengthens their “skin in the game” in understanding and learning from their data, risks, and consumer behavior, as well as patterns to reduce the risk of bad debts.

Pezesha will continue to invest alongside other investors on the platform as this also helps them to maximize their returns in the short and long term. 

As a foreign investor, you have two options to lend on the Pezesha platform. Either as a return-based lender or as a philanthropic lender. 

The process is a bit different compared to the way they onboard local lenders. You will be required to first review and sign off on their lender terms and conditions agreement which they will send to you upon request. 

Then they will provide their bank details information for your lending amount disbursement. 

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Then once Pezesha receives your funds, they will load them to your wallet less taxes or any charges incurred during the transfer and after creating your account the funds will be topped up to your Pezesha wallet and reflect real-time. 

Then from there, you will be able to have full transparency that they have topped up all your funds, the borrowers you have lent to in line with your preferred portfolio preference setting, their details, and also their repayment progress on a month-to-month basis. 

Additionally, Pezesha invests its own money on the platform to also demonstrate its confidence in its credit scoring model and also to gauge borrower behavior in terms of repayment and default to further enhance its credit scoring model.

However, when Pezesha has more supply of investors than they require, they reserve the right to stop the acceptance of new investors into its platform for some time. In such a case, they will notify new investors when they have the necessary demand again.

Credit risk

This is the risk that a borrower defaults on a loan, we have managed this by:

  • Pre-screening: Before onboarding a borrower, they conduct thorough checks to determine their capacity to pay. Using their credit-scoring model, they establish the borrower’s credit score and reference third-party information from Credit Reference Bureaus. They also ensure the credit they lend is only used solely for business purposes.
  • Diversification: They put your eggs in many baskets since the Pezesha platform spreads your risk by lending your funds to multiple borrowers.
  • Prudent collection methods: through automated SMS reminders to customers before and when they are due including having call touchpoints through their in-house customer care team to remind them to make their payments.

Operational risk

This is the risk that Pezesha as a company ceases to exist as a going concern. 

However, they are regulated by the Capital Markets Authority and are obliged to report our going concern to the authorities.

Shortlisting

Pezesha uses several processes to ensure that they approve borrowers who are likely to repay their loans. 

This creditworthiness evaluation is done in real-time by the following means:

  • CRB (Credit Bureau) previous credit history to know in seconds whether a borrower has failed to repay previous loans to any other Kenyan financial institutions in the past.
  • Verified and robust data that they access directly from mobile operators’ APIs with borrowers’ consent (for example their mobile money statements).
  •  This data enables us to get a very detailed view of their incomings and outgoings, which in turn allows them to determine whether a borrower has the financial capacity to repay your loan.
  • Strategic partners/trustees provide us with 12 months of consistent stock and automated business transactions of the micro business they work with.
  • Over time with initial repayment data, we are also able to predict their long-term repayment behavior through our machine learning algorithms.
  • Their customer KYC process is thorough, including checks and balances such as checking with third-party credit databases for any fraud or illegal track record.

Security

Consumer protection is at the heart of their business for both the borrowers and lenders/investors.

With the expertise of our legal arm, they have been able to set clear terms and conditions for their customers including complying with the best international practices over and above that which is required by Kenyan laws. 

They also take a collaborative approach to educate their customers on the terms of use and ensure a good user experience in presenting and communicating the terms on their platform.

Education

They understand that the character of a borrower is a key factor in whether they will meet his/her loan obligation. 

To this end, they spend considerable time educating the borrower as a means of positively influencing their character.

Their loan process starts with education and creating self-financial awareness for low-income borrowers. 

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This is followed by a clear explanation of the terms and conditions of the loan, in a language that is conversant to the borrower, and information on how the ability of the borrower to diligently abide by these terms helps them to improve their credit history performance, and to ultimately connect them to the formal financial system.

Additionally, this education helps them to build loyal relationships with their customers and understand their needs better. 

The credit they facilitate is built on responsible financing – transparency and trust to the investors by giving them sufficient information about the borrowers’ risk profiles and use of funds.

They have closely followed guidelines by FSD Kenya on how to ensure high levels of consumer protection in what they do.

Importantly, time is taken to explain to the borrowers what the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) is, and to introduce them to the concept and consequences of “blacklisting”.

In summary, they ensure that the borrowers understand the terms of the loan agreement before proceeding to the loan application process. 

This includes understanding: the foreseeability of harm or consequences including blacklisting if they fail to repay the loan on time; the use of the loan in line with moral and ethical principles; the extent of the burden and consequences if the other members in their group or community do not pay back on time, and the cost, availability, and risks involved.

Borrower profiling

Importantly, their goal is to be sustainable in the long term, and they know that this will only be possible by ensuring that the majority of their borrowers can pay back the microloans they are given.

Their profiling helps them to understand the borrowers better and as such, they take guardianship seriously and are careful not to overextend the amount of credit to an individual until the borrower has proven that they can generate the necessary payments and thus not fall into a debt trap, and this is governed by their duty of care.

Defaulting

Their credit scoring evolves continuously. It increasingly grows in robustness to intelligently assess creditworthy borrowers and automatically reject the ones below the threshold. 

This significantly reduces default risk and increases returns for investors.

Their credit scoring model helps them to identify borrowers at risk of overextending their debt by spotting irregular patterns in the data obtained from them. 

This is done through complex data analytics which takes into context the Kenyan financial environment, and this is a core tenant of their credit scoring model.

Additionally, their exceptionally talented team has built successful credit scoring models in Africa before. 

They have designed the scoring system to scale with their growth and allow them to closely monitor the performance of their loans. 

This allows them to better assess their new borrowers to tailor their offering to them, and to allow investors to choose a risk portfolio that best suits them.

Withdrawals

When funds are committed to a loan that has been disbursed, the money is with the borrower and cannot be reclaimed until it is repaid. 

When the borrower begins making repayments, these earnings are transferred back to your Pezesha account. 

Once the funds are in your Pezesha account, you can withdraw the funds at your convenience though they encourage you to re-invest to maximize your long-term returns.

Loanings

With continuous loaning, if a borrower repays part of a loan then this repayment is automatically immediately reinvested into another loan to another borrower based on your risk preferences and appetite.

With loaning on full repayment, they only reinvest your return once the full repayment has been made by the borrower based on your risk preferences and appetite.

Balances

Your wallet balance is the amount that is available for withdrawal at any point in time.

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The funding balance is the amount that can be utilized for granting out loans. 

Typically, both lending balance and funding balance show the same figure for investors who loan continuously from both interest earned and principal repaid.

These two balances will only be different if an investor chooses to lend on full repayment. In this case, the funding balance will be lesser than the wallet balance.

Taxes

Returns/Revenues that you earn on Pezesha will be considered part of your taxable income by Kenyan law. 

Foreigners will also be required to pay taxes. Pezesha started deducting a 15% Withholding Tax for all interest earned by investors on their platform by Kenya law. 

This includes all interest on penalties accrued from late borrowers. This is a mandatory requirement by law under paragraph 5 of the third schedule of the Income Tax Act. 

Lenders’ Wallet balance will be less than WHT deductions. You can now see all the WHT from your dashboard on the app and when you click on it you will see the fine details of all loans and their deductions accordingly. 

Charges

As a marketplace, they receive fees for facilitating the infrastructure between the participants in the underserved segment of the private credit capital market, the LENDERS and BORROWERS. The fees they charge are:

  • Origination fees: between 0.5% and 2% of the originated loan principal.
  • Interest Income Share: They take between 20% to 50% of the interest income earned on the loans originated with your funds.
  • Overperformance fees: They charge 50% of the excess return made from your loan performance. They define excess returns as returns earned from your loan performance minus agreed returns stated at the beginning of your investment cycle.

Founders

Hilda Moraa

hilda moraa
hilda moraa

Hilda Moraa is the Founder and CEO at Pezesha. 

She previously worked at the Ministry of ICT, Innovation, and Youth Affairs as a COVID-19 ICT and Innovations Advisory Committee of Kenya. 

Hilda Moraa attended Strathmore University.

Investors & Funding Rounds

Greenhouse Capital, Venture Garden Group

Pezesha has closed a seven-figure seed extension round as it looks to expand further across the continent.

The seven-figure round is led by GreenHouse Capital and also includes on-lending liquidity support from GreenHouse Capital’s sister company Venture Garden Group. 

The funding will support Pezesha’s continued growth across Africa and its mission to expand access to affordable working capital for SMEs and adds to previous seed investment raised in 2018 from Consonance and last year from Seedstars.

Additionally, Pezesha has raised a pre-Series A investment of US$11 million to help it significantly scale operations in its core markets and grow into new ones within Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The US$11 million funding round will be used to grow its presence in East Africa and expand to the West African market. 

The round was a mix of US$6 million equity and US$5 million debt and was led by Women’s World Banking Capital Partners II, a gender-lens investment fund established by US-based non-profit organization Women’s World Banking and managed by WWB Asset Management. 

Other strategic investors included Verdant Frontiers Fintech Fund, cFund, IOG, Talanton, and Verdant Capital Specialist.

Pezesha is also opening up the debt liquidity market by working with strategic institutional investors such as IOG-Cardano. 

Through this partnership, the company can access affordable capital by layering DeFi liquidity channels on top of the scalable digital lending infrastructure.

Main Competitors

FastPay: This is the definitive payment platform for digital media.

Zeepay: It is the fastest-growing fintech focusing on digital rails to connect digital assets.

Valiant: This is a marketplace that offers business and commercial financial services online.

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