June 22, 2024

Zanifu was founded by Biko and Sebastian Mithika who launched the financing business in 2018, one year after founding the startup in 2017.

Zanifu is a company that is built at the heart of the problem it is trying to solve.

They look at the needs and pain points of the African retailer & work to solve them from a first principles perspective, starting with the most important – Access to Finance.

The company develops a microlending platform intended to introduce efficiency and opportunity in supply chain operations. 

The company’s platform is built with a mobile-first mindset and is designed to work in an environment of low internet penetration, enabling retailers and wholesalers to gain access to unsecured working lines of credit to facilitate the growth of their business.

They have disbursed over 85,000 loans worth over $13M to over 7,000 MSME’s in Kenya. Zanifu is one of a few digital B2B lenders in Kenya, specializing in MSME loans. 

How it Works

Financial Model

The informal businesses in Kenya are an integral part of the economy contributing to the country’s GDP and providing employment outside of small-scale agriculture. 

However, access to financing remains the main impediment to growth for these micro and small businesses. And thus, over the last few years, fintech companies like Zanifu have introduced products that are tailored to the financing needs of the MSMEs.

Zanifu works with several manufacturers and distributors to extend the credit to these small businesses with retailers already sourcing products from the startup’s partners qualifying for the financing.

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Zanifu has created platforms for manufacturers, distributors, and retailers that ensure seamless ordering, payment, tracking, and fulfillment.

Retailers borrow through Zanifu’s loan app, where they upload information that includes historical purchase data.

The retailers are then assigned a credit limit, after its algorithm scores them, within six hours of signing up.

Retailers have up to a month to pay back the loans, which attract an interest rate of 3.5 to 5%.


Sebastian Kilimo

Sebastian Kilimo

Sebastian Kilimo is the current Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Managing Director of Zanifu. 

He previously worked at Youtap LTD as a Senior Technical Product Manager – Africa. 

Sebastian Kilimo attended Kenyatta University.

Steve Biko

Steve Biko is the current Co-Founder and COO of Zanifu Ltd.

 He previously worked at Sendy Ltd as a Country Manager: Enterprise Business.

 Steve Biko attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Investors & Funding Rounds

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), Saviu Ventures, Launch Africa Ventures, Sayani Investments & Angel investors from Kenya & Nigeria.

 Zanifu has announced it has successfully closed a $ 1 million seed round to scale its business and improve on its platform, which provides short-term working capital loans to MSME’s in the FMCG Supply Chain. They also plan to enable financial access for more than 15000 FMCG retailers.

The round, which was oversubscribed, included Saviu Ventures, which earlier invested in a pre-seed round. Others who participated include Launch Africa Ventures, Sayani Investments & Angel investors from Kenya & Nigeria, including founders & executives of some of the top tech start-ups in Africa.

The funds will be used to expand the startup’s platforms and boost the number of MSMEs it supports by 15,000 FMCG retailers.

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Zanifu, which has a presence throughout Kenya, is now eyeing Ghana and Uganda. A regional presence will step-up competition for the likes of Uganda’s Numida and Nigeria’s Payhippo, some of the fintech companies providing unsecured financing to small businesses.

Main Competitors

Duplo: It is modernizing B2B payments in Africa.

VSure.life: This is an On Demand Lifestyles Digital Insurer.

Pezesha: It is a digital financial marketplace that connects SMBs to working capital, float financing, and LPO financing.


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