Brass, a Nigerian fintech that provides small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with easy access to inexpensive premium banking services, has raised $1.7 million in funding to meet the unmet financial needs of local entrepreneurs, traders, and fast-growing firms.
Olugbenga ‘GB’ Agboola (Co-Founder of Flutterwave), Ezra Olubi (Co-Founder of Paystack, purchased by Stripe), Hustle Fund, Acuity Ventures, Uncovered Fund, and Ventures Platform are among the investors in the round. Brass’ development into South Africa and Kenya will be accelerated thanks to the fresh capital, which will jumpstart a number of new product categories, including an expansion of the startup’s footprint in the credit market as it seeks to diversify its customer base barely a year after its inception.
Brass, founded by Sola Akindolu (former Head of Product at Kudi) and Emmanuel Okeke (former Engineering Manager at Paystack) in July 2020, provides SMEs with a full-stack, commercial-grade banking service across various business classes, allowing them to gain greater clarity and control over their money operations as well as the ability to scale their businesses. The platform now offers a comprehensive suite of products designed to meet a wide range of corporate banking needs, including credit and payment services, payroll and expense management, API support, and a slew of other key business services.
Brass has supported thousands of firms to date, has disbursed over $2 million in credit, and has recently introduced Brass Capital, a cash-flow financing tool to help even more fast-growing companies. Many of Brass’ clients use the platform as their primary money transfer service provider, including Send.ng, Mono, and Eden, as well as restaurants, schools, and shopping malls. Flutterwave has also partnered with the platform to help it expand across Africa.
“The basic needs of Africa’s SMEs are just as significant and unique as those of the customers they serve every day,” says Sola Akindolu, Co-Founder and CEO of Brass, of the fundraise. “Now, more than ever, we need innovative and world-class financial services solutions that meet their expectations.” Local businesses have supported our economy for decades, providing the backbone of Africa’s success too far, and now is the time to put your money where your mouth is.”
“At Brass, we’ve made significant progress in the last year in addressing one of Africa’s most neglected client segments, but with a worldwide credit gap of $5.1 trillion, our work is far from done.” This is why we’re thrilled to have a number of seasoned and strategic investors on board, whose knowledge will be invaluable not only as we prepare to expand into South Africa and Kenya, but also in our future plans beyond the continent.”
SMEs make up 99 percent of all businesses in Nigeria, but many of them face the same major roadblock that has left 55 percent to 68 percent of formal SMEs in emerging markets underserved by financial institutions: a severe lack of access to affordable, high-quality, and uniquely tailored financial services.
As a result, these enterprises are primarily constrained to costly and frequently ineffective traditional banking services, or they stay unbanked due to lack of access or expense. This has resulted in a $5.1 billion credit gap for SMEs in Nigeria and other emerging markets, as well as a significant shortage of tools for small businesses to fully comprehend their financial operations and make crucial business decisions.
“We were immediately sold on Brass’s objective to make banking work for small businesses,” says Kola Aina, Founder, and General Partner at Ventures Platform. For far too long, banks have failed to work in their clients’ best interests. This problem is exacerbated for small businesses, so we’re thrilled to be a part of the Brass team as they seek to make banking work for African businesses with a portfolio of tools tailored to help them flourish.”
“We are pleased to back Sola and the Brass team who are offering crucial financial technology to Africa’s businesses, starting with Nigeria’s 41.5 million enterprises,” says Elizabeth Yin, General Partner at Hustle Fund. Brass is at the vanguard of providing local firms and professionals with financial technology to turbo their growth, and we believe Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and fintech sector are undergoing a historic transition. We are enthralled by their vision and honored to be a part of their journey.”
To date, Olumide Soyombo of Voltron Capital, Leonard Stiegler, Fola Olatunji-David, Yemi Lawani, and two senior executives from leading Nigerian banks have participated in Brass’ prior investments.
Access to comprehensive banking solutions services is currently one of the most significant restrictions for SMEs in Africa, with an estimated annual financing shortfall of over $136 billion in the continent’s formal SME sector. According to the World Bank, these enterprises employ 80% of Africa’s population, demonstrating their importance to the local economy and emphasizing their need for more assistance.
“The true market opportunity in digital banking in Africa is empowering small businesses,” says Lexi Novitske, Managing Partner at Acuity Ventures. These companies are searching for tools to help them sustainably scale; with a Brass collaboration, they’ll be able to grow with a long-term partner. In the meantime, data sources in Africa are still in their infancy. Brass’s suite of solutions, which includes payments and dashboard services, not only provides small local businesses with transparency and efficiency over their operations but also allows Brass to offer banking products that fulfill their demands at a reduced risk.”
Africa Money and DeFi Summit
At the fourth Africa Tech Summit in Nairobi, the Africa Money & DeFi Summit will bring together Africa fintech leaders, global platforms, and thought leaders to discuss the new potential in Decentralized Finance (DeFi). Keynotes, panels, and breakout sessions from across the African fintech and DeFi ecosystems will provide essential insights and opportunities to connect, network, and do business.