ALA alumnus and former staffulty member Akan Nelson ‘09 and Daniel Osineye’s Evolve Credit recently reached a milestone: securing pre-seed funding of US$300 000, all of which was raised in the heat of a pandemic and all pitched through video conferencing.
Evolve Credit, founded by the pair, is an online marketplace for Nigerians to compare loans and financial products from select lenders. Its software also enables lenders to market their loans to consumers, generate high-quality leads, and digitize the loan origination process, including online application processing, credit scoring, loan disbursement, and loan collections.
Initially, Daniel and Akan set out to understand the loan and credit space in Nigeria by building a mobile application that allowed consumers to access personal loans at the point-of-sale from select merchants. The pair spent their first year at Evolve Credit exploring opportunities in the lending marketplace and built the mobile application. Based on the research, learnings, and insights from building a loan product the founders decided there was a significant opportunity for them to 1) demystify the confusing loan marketplace for consumers and; 2) help lenders generate higher-quality leads and migrate their application processes online.
“Nigerians are confused by 100,000s of loan options on the market; 80% of lenders rely on offline origination processes. The global pandemic has accelerated consumer expectations of a fully online-remote buying experience, for which most African lenders and financial institutions are insufficiently prepared. Our marketplace helps African consumers and businesses find and compare loans and helps lenders digitize their applications and lead generation.” shared Akan.
He continued, “We’re building Evolve Credit with the goal to issue an Initial Public Offering ( IPO) or create a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) in the next 6-7 years. IPOs and SPACs are “exit” events that would allow us to return value/cash returns to our investors. So, this financial/business goal is also something we’re working towards with a flexible plan. Our short term goal – like all startups is one thing right now – stay alive.”
Akan’s family has been in the banking industry for over 25 years, so it’s only natural that after he graduated from African Leadership Academy in 2011 that he pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Economics at the University of Rochester. His passion for finance led him to consult directly with the CEO’s office at UBA where he gained experience and insight into how Nigerian banks operate and innovate. A year later, he returned to ALA as a Recruitment and Partnerships Associate.
Upon reflection on his days since ALA, Akan remarked “The ALA community has already been supporting Evolve Credit. My co-founder, Daniel Osineye, and I first bonded as colleagues at ALA. He was working with the IT department and I was working on alumni fundraising and on the Decennial celebrations. In the future, I think Evolve Credit will be looking to ALA as a source of great people, for volunteer, paid internships, and full-time opportunities – especially around software engineering, data science, and machine learning. Also, the community can support by simply thinking of us if you meet someone interesting and think there might be value in making a connection. I’m also open to have quick calls on the weekends with members of the community who are thinking of starting their own companies and need help understanding the details of how fundraising, team building, etc works (to the best of my abilities – we’re still making mistakes and learning every day!)”
The team plans to expand the business to Ghana and Kenya by the end of 2021 and ALA is excited to follow its journey. You can keep up with Evolve Credit on @evolvecreditco on Twitter and Instagram or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org.