First Circle bags $1.3m to bring SME lending to South-East Asia

South-East Asian SME lender First Circle has raised $1.3m in a new round from Accion Venture Lab and Deep Blue Ventures.

The capital builds on the $1.2m it raised last year from 500 Startups, IMJ and Key Capital to bring the startup’s equity funding to $2.5m in total.

First Circle is based in the Philippines and aims provide access to financing for SMEs normally ineligible for traditional lending using credit scoring software.

The unmet demand for SME capital in South-East Asia is estimated to be $50bn by the Asian Development Bank.

First Circle CEO Patrick Lynch commented: “Lack of access to capital is a big problem that needs to be fixed.

“If it isn’t, millions of hardworking entrepreneurs and their businesses will not be given the chance to reach their potential.

“This is an uncharted territory in emerging economies. We believe the key is combining traditional and alternative data sources to accurately measure risk.”

The company will use the capital to further develop its technology before expanding around South-East Asia.

Accion Venture Lab’s Managing Director Vikas Raj said: “We are thrilled to partner with Patrick and the First Circle team to advance access to capital for small businesses in the Philippines and beyond.

“The combined use of both traditional and alternative data and automated processes to acquire and understand potential borrowers can help First Circle expand access to credit quickly and efficiently at a low cost.”

Copyright © 2017 FINTECH GLOBAL

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