Announcing our Investment in Pivo 💙🎉
Pivo is a credit-focused financial services company for SME Players in the Supply Chain.
- Nkiru Amadi-Emina, CEO and Co-founder: Nkiru has a BSc in Computer Science and a Masters Degree in Business Analytics. She previously founded Jalo, an on-demand delivery company, which was later acquired. As a serial entrepreneur with 8 years experience in Startup growth and 2 years experience in Finance, she has held a good number of leadership roles in private and public sector institutions.
- Ijeoma Jacquelyn Akwiwu, COO and Co-founder: Ijeoma is a Qualified Lawyer and Chartered Arbitrator with an MSc in Software Development. In the past decade, she has worked across a broad spectrum of industries, garnering valuable experience and insight around corporate regulations, compliance, and best legal-business practices relevant to Pivo’s ongoing business.
Small and medium business (SMB) owners in the supply chain sector find it difficult to secure necessary loans and bespoke services to fund their contracts and demand pipeline. Corporate banking solutions from legacy financial institutions usually require high-value collateral and take as long as 5–7 business days to communicate their loan decisions. These solutions do not make provision for the unique (credit) requirements of a supply chain business. Many times, contractors do not give executors (business owners) part payments to begin project execution. Unfortunately, these transaction opportunities have a short lifespan and business owners can rarely afford an extra week to access liquidity and working capital.
Pivo is challenging traditional banking by offering suppliers continent-wide a new and more efficient way to access financial services. With Pivo Capital — the company’s flagship product, companies can access working capital loans of up to $50,000 to help scale their business. Pivo Capital also rides on providing trade financing support, which helps suppliers fulfill customer orders even when they lack the upfront capital. Its cycle for this is 40–60 days while working capital loans have a tenure of 31 days.
Pivo’s goal is to build an end-to-end financial operating system for these businesses. As they grow, their plan is to roll out a multi-product strategy that will run the entire finance lifecycle of their customers’ transactions through Pivo.
By the end of Q1 2022, Pivo expects to launch its Finance product in beta. With this feature, users on Pivo will be able to open and operate a corporate bank account that is tailored to their unique business.
How it works
With a few clicks on the Pivo Dashboard, users can provide information on their business and get set up in 5 minutes or less. Once all requested documentation has been provided and verified, customers are able to apply for loans and get a decision within 24 hours, without the steep barriers that financing from traditional banks requires — long pesky forms, setup fees, and minimum balances.
Pivo uses a Supply Chain Finance approach to its credit operations, where every loan is tied to a transaction. The Pivo customer has to show proof of the business relationship that they need funding for and in many cases, a verifiable Pro-forma invoice or substitute will suffice.
There are ~20M small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the supply chain/logistics industry and these businesses contribute ~$19.2B which forms 40% of the $48B revenue generated in this sector annually.
In the global market, Tradeshift, a supply chain financing group that has American Express and Goldman Sachs on its cap table recently exceeded the $1T transaction value mark, doubling in only two years.
We expect Pivo to replicate this success in the coming years as it builds out its multi-product strategy.
Nkiru and Ijeoma met ~8 years ago at Ijeoma’s birthday dinner. Since that initial contact, they’ve gone ahead to build companies, one of which is SourcePro, a company that uses big data to source raw materials and connect exporters and importers.
In one of our first conversations with the team, we wondered how the accumulated experience and education belonged to only 2 individuals. Ijeoma had managed to run careers in law and software development while Nkiru had an education in software engineering closely followed by work experience in finance and as a startup operator.
For this team, Pivo was born because they wanted to solve a problem they’d had personal encounters with. They’d seen close friends and family struggle to execute on large client orders because of the financing gap in the sector.
Both founders are technical and have sector-specific expertise. This is also not the first time that they have built a company in the same space.
Nkiru and Ijeoma are doubling down on addressing the financial service needs of a niche market, and have also perfected a near risk-free mechanism that ensures a quick turnaround cycle of 30–45 days.
As at the time of our investment, Pivo had onboarded 100 active customers and processed more than $100K in loan applications.
Since then, these numbers have gone up >2x with >70% of loans disbursed going to logistics sub-contractors.
In the future, Pivo’s solution could become a distinct asset class for High Networth Individuals (HNIs) looking to diversify their investment portfolio. Pivo focuses on a B2B strategy and financiers could directly connect with specific users, covering the supplier’s financial requests end-to-end.
With the team’s strategy, suppliers and contractors have access to related service offerings that eliminate a recurring difficulty. Complimentary services such as insurance and regulatory compliance advisory would also help minimise the likelihood of losing the value of cargo in transit.
We’re excited to be on this journey with Nkiru and Ijeoma as they work hard to bridge Africa’s supply chain financing gap.
At Microtraction, our long-term mission is to accelerate Africa’s transition to a sustainable and developed economy. We do this by investing in entrepreneurs who leverage technology, capital, and innovation to try and solve some of the largest problems on the continent. If you are working on solving one of these problems, we should talk!
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