Globally, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for 90% of businesses and 50% of employment, according to the World Bank. As of 2020, Nigeria's Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) estimated that there are approximately 39.6 million MSMEs in Nigeria.
Access to credit is a key challenge that small businesses in Nigeria and the rest of Africa deal with, especially small supply chain businesses, especially because it takes a longer time to acquire credit from traditional financial institutions due to strict red tap procedures.
Launched in September 2021, Pivo Africa provides financial services—credit, payments and expense management—to SME vendors within large manufacturing supply chains. The company acts as a third-party partner in a transaction between a buyer and a seller.
As of March 2022, Pivo Africa had about 250 direct SME customers and five ecosystem leads—these are larger corporations that Pivo serve the SMEs within their value chain through embedded finance—each ecosystem lead is reported to have about 500 to 1,000 SMEs. Some of Pivo's ecosystem leads include Jetstream Africa, SabiRoad, Vee Logistics and MVx.
To expand its product offerings to supply chain SMEs in Africa, Pivo has secured a $2 million seed fund from Precursor Ventures, Vested World, Y Combinator, FoundersX and Mercy Corp Ventures.
"After our pre-seed raise of $550,000 early in Q1 of this year, we launched a new product, Pivo Business with features that supply chain SMEs can use to achieve better cash flow," Nkiru Amadi-Emina, CEO and co-founder said in a statement shared with Benjamindada.com. "The transaction volume of Pivo Business accounts grew by over 400% between April and September. With this funding, we intend to build on existing products and develop solutions for supply chain anchors."
Pivo will use the $2 million seed to upgrade existing products and build new products to improve supply chain transaction management and payment reconciliation. The planned upgrade will include enhanced payment capabilities for typical recurring payments specific to their customer group. The company also plans to establish its presence outside its Lagos office, expand operations to East Africa and grow its team.
"When we initially invested last year, we believed that the founders’ deep logistics industry expertise and commitment to unattended supply chain SMEs would enable Pivo to rapidly carve out a deep moat in the competitive fintech lending space," according to Daniel Block, Investment Principal at Mercy Corps Ventures. "As Pivo launches additional products to graduate from a pure fintech lender to a full-fledged financial services platform, we are excited to see the company deliver a full suite of financial services specifically designed for the needs of the unattended supply-chain sector SMEs they serve."