Jordanian fintech company United Liwwa has received $2.2 million in debt funding from the Triodos Microfinance Fund and the Triodos Fair Share Fund.
The debt facility will allow Liwwa to increase its outreach as it expands its activities to other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, starting with Egypt, Triodos said.
Fadoua Boudiba, regional manager at Triodos, said Liwwa is helping Jordan develop its digital policy. “Also, Liwwa helped shift the credit bureaus in Jordan from accepting only physical signatures with witnesses present, to digital signatures which were necessary for many businesses to stay afloat during the pandemic.”
Liwwa provides loans ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 to small businesses in Jordan using a ‘tech and touch’ approach. Liwwa says it fills a funding gap since these small businesses are usually neglected by the banking sector.
Liwwa had recently expanded its lending activities to Egypt. In May, The Capital Quest had reported that Liwwa was likely to get additional commitment from Dutch development finance institution FMO.
FMO initially invested via convertible notes in 2018 and later participated in Liwwa’s Series A round in 2019. In total, the Dutch institution has committed around $2.1 million across five tranches. FMO is now looking to bring another $500,000 to strengthen Liwwa’s solvency position, allow it to invest in technology and enable it to grow in Egypt.
Liwwa was founded in 2013 but started operations in March 2015 with the target to serve a market of 100,000 businesses in Jordan. Recently, the company began to replicate its model in Egypt with an addressable market of around 2 million micro, small and medium enterprises. It offers a Shariah-compliant loan product, among other features.
It operates a hybrid online marketplace for loans with a conventional matching of institutional lenders with borrowers as also a peer-to-peer model of lending. According to its website, the firm has underwritten loans worth over $53 million to date. Over two-thirds of the loans have been repaid and the remaining are outstanding.
Liwwa is led by Dennis Ardis, who took over the reins of the firm from co-founder Ahmed Moor earlier this year. Moor had co-founded the business along with Samer Atiani at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab.
It had started with a $500,000 seed round led by DASH Ventures, with participation of Bank al Etihad and MENA Venture Investments. It followed this up with $2.3 million round led by Silicon Badia’s Badia Impact Fund.
In late 2019, the company raised $6 million afresh led by FMO. That round also saw participation from Edgo VC, EFG-EV and Wamda Capital, among others.