Ovamba is an innovative solution “FinTech” aimed at bringing African SMEs who are desperate for funding and the financial sector seems unable to provide them. Club Africa met with the co-founder of Ovamba, Viola Llewellyn, who found funds for more than 120 African SMEs in just over three years.
“On average, the demand for capital amounts to € 80,000,” said Viola, who does not hide his passion for Africa and the progress it makes. With its co-founder and CEO Marvin Cole Viola Ovamba launched in 2013. Today, the financial services company employs 40 people and has offices in Cameroon, South Africa, the US and India. “In 2011, Viola tells us, the World Bank signaled a gap of 330 billion euros credit access to the continent. So much money that SMEs need to grow, but is refused. If these entrepreneurs are the engines of economic growth in Africa, they are also the attic of the economy. We are aware that everything remains to be done. this solution works in other markets, so we are sure that can provide every opportunity for Africa by supporting its entrepreneurs. ”
A funding solution based on assets
Ovamba is a financing solution based on assets, explains Viola. “Our customers sell us some of their personal assets (a house, land) or we will buy the stock they need to start their business. This approach frees up capital that the entrepreneur can use to fund its business. In all cases, the contractor will reimburse us as and with the generated profits. ”
In addition, Ovamba has a clear vision of the business may or may not benefit the African continent. Viola added: “Wood, for example, is exported around the world where it is turned into doors, back to Africa at extremely high retail prices We prefer to finance SMEs that stimulate local employment and sell products. that want to buy the middle classes that develop in Africa, and at affordable prices. When Africa will be able to manufacture its own goods for personal consumption, the continent can meet his needs. ”
Accelerate the process
SMEs have to pay fees amounting to 1 to 2.5%. To expedite the process, Ovamba has introduced a mobile application enabling SMEs to apply for funding. With this application, all of the funding application process is managed in an online environment, with the exception of signing the contract. “African banks are not structured to the needs of African SMEs today. Businesses sometimes have to wait up to four months for their bank gives them credit. A classic SMEs can not afford to lose this valuable time. ”
Viola loves to tell the story of the first customer Ovamba. “Our first customer is a pharmacist who has experienced great difficulty in obtaining a bank loan for his pharmacy. The bank told her that because she was a woman and a scientist, and she was not head of business, she did not want to risk the fund. We were able to honor his credit application after making a rational audit, which has enabled a pharmacy opened successfully in Douala, Cameroon. ”
Urgent need of investors
Because of its ability to quantify and estimate the risks associated with SMEs in particular, Ovamba enjoys an attractive proposition for investors. “We have hundreds of additional data points compared to local banks,” said Viola. “This information allows us to estimate the ethnic and tribal influences a person’s ability to manage a business, and the amount of money we can give him. With funding from projects that sometimes reach 44 million EUR Ovamba desperately needs investors who share its vision of a prosperous Africa! ”
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