liwwa, Inc. secures equity round of financing
liwwa, Inc., the Amman based marketplace lender, has closed a $2.3m equity round led by Silicon Badia’s Badia Impact Fund. Existing investor DASH Ventures and new investor Samih Toukan also participated in the equity financing. The investment marks the second time the company has raised capital in a year, having closed a $500,000 seed round with DASH, Bank al Etihad and MENA Venture Investments in March 2015.
liwwa, Inc. was founded by Samer Atiani and Ahmed Moor in 2013 at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab. The company’s mission is to deliver job and income growth, one that it aims to achieve by helping to close the $240 billion small business (SME) funding gap in the MENA region.
The company’s first year of operating in Jordan saw it lend $1.6 million to 75 small businesses. Bank al Etihad, Arab Bank, Capital Bank and 1,300 registered lenders enabled the exchange by lending directly through the liwwa.com network.
liwwa is leveraging statistical methods to develop a lightweight credit assessment process designed to supplant cash-flow underwriting. To date, liwwa’s Shadow Underwriting regression model is 97% predictive of cash-flow underwriting outcomes.
Hagop Taminian of Silicon Badia explained that, “SME access to finance is one of the biggest economic development challenges and market opportunities in the Middle East.”
“We believe that technology and the online marketplace model will be important in the future of finance in the region, and are looking forward to working with the liwwa team to develop innovative products and solutions that address this critical market need,” he said.
Omar J. Sati, Managing Director at DASH Ventures explained his fund’s decision to reinvest after leading liwwa’s first round. He said, “What distinguishes liwwa is their focus on customer service and ethos of keeping clients at the heart of everything they do, with an underlying commitment to using data to drive business decisions and ensure their technology is market leading, particularly in delivering a superlative user experience.”
“Each of our new and existing investors adds strategic depth to the business. Silicon Badia and Samih Toukan have a long history of supporting companies in the region and we’re delighted to welcome them to the liwwa family,” said Ahmed Moor, liwwa’s CEO.
Use of proceeds
liwwa will use the funds to grow its underwriting capacity in Jordan and the MENA region while opening the company’s New York software development and data center. Samer Atiani, liwwa’s CTO, explained that “we are committed to delivering on the promise of technology driven credit assessments. Doing so will allow us to lend to small businesses that lack conventional credit histories.”