In a sign that crowdsourcing is set to become an important fundraising option for the region’s cash-starved SMEs, Amman-based peer-to-peer lender Liwwa recently closed a successful financing round involving three major investors.
The round was led by DASH Ventures, with the participation of Bank al Etihad and MENA Venture Investments (MVI), Liwwa said in statement, without stating how much was raised.
Liwwa said the investment would be used to hire several new team members to enhance data collection, technology development, underwriting, and modeling capacities.
“We have a deeply ingrained commitment to the role of technology and data analysis in driving our user growth and scaling up our credit assessment processes. It’s something we’ve been investing in continuously,” said Liwwa Chief Technology Officer Samer Atiani. “In order to truly make capital available for the SMEs that need it, we have to use technology to achieve economies of scale and drive down the costs of the SME lending process.”
Atiani founded Liwwa alongside Ahmed Moor in 2012 with the aim of alleviating an estimated $250 billion funding gap for Middle Eastern SMEs, which remain responsible for the great majority of economic activity in the region.
MVI Investment Manager Fares Ghandour said he decided to back Liwwa because peer-to-peer lending is growing fast worldwide, with several billion dollars worth of debt underwritten to date. “Liwaa is developing as a regional pioneer with vast potential to serve the Levant, Egypt, and Gulf markets,” he said.