For an ecosystem as profound as the Nigerian Fintech space, it is quite shocking to know that there are not many/any startups tackling rising consumer debts. Debts incurred from digital lending platforms were soaring and it looked set to continue on its upwards trajectory no thanks to the nation’s poor economic strength.
This negative development made three professionals Chukwudi Enyi, Moses Nmor, and Julian Flosbach working at some of the country’s leading digital lending fintech platform quit their jobs and set up BFree
BFREE AFRICA is a lagos-based startup focusing on consumers’ financial health by building a tech-enabled ethical credit management company that makes collection processes in Africa more scalable, efficient and user-friendly.
Describing the startup’s journey, (COO) Chukwudi Enyi said, “All of us co-founders used to work in large digital lending fintechs in Nigeria, and collections were always a struggle. On the one hand, you have traditional collections companies that are not very scalable and have little transparency and accountability in their processes. And on the other hand, you have classic call centres that are a bit more scalable but not very effective and still have loopholes for misconduct. So we looked at the collection process to come up with a way to reinvent it from scratch to fix these challenges.”
Founded in the summer of 2020, BFREE’s solution aims to incentivise consumers that have fallen behind on their credit repayments to sustainably clear their balances by deploying a combination of self-servicing solutions, communication automation, and human operations, supported by machine learning algorithms that cluster and predict customer behaviour. This results in higher recovery rates for lenders and a better customer experience for borrowers. Today, the startup manages more than 300,000 customers for the majority of leading lenders in Nigeria.
CPO Moses Nmor, who spoke on the business model of the startup, said, “No legitimate customer takes out a loan with the intention of not repaying it; however, life does not always play out this way. When you look at the core reasons why customers cannot service their outstanding balances, you will quickly notice that loss of income and direct or indirect health emergencies are among the top reasons for default. We focus all of our product development to assist customers in a state of financial emergency. This is really what motivates us as a team. In the end, there are millions of consumers in personal debt in Africa, and no one is really focussing on helping them get back on their feet. With BFREE, we are changing that.”
This seed round led by Nigeria-based Beta Ventures alongside Launch Africa Ventures and GreenHouse Capital will be used in piloting the Kenyan market as disclosed by Chukwudiebele Enyi, COO of BFREE.“We are really excited to have incredibly supportive investors. We are now using this support to scale our product and development team and to pilot the Kenyan market.”
Ike Eze of Beta Ventures said of the investment, “We are really excited to help grow the first ethical credit management company on the continent. Efficient and user-friendly credit collection is an essential part of the credit value chain. BFREE is essential for the existing credit market, and it opens the door for significant credit deepening in Africa and any other emerging market.”
He further added, “The team is highly experienced in lending and is now solving a problem that they once faced themselves, which is something that we like a lot in founders.”