Small and medium sized businesses in South Africa can look forward to a new banking platform specifically built for their needs. The launch of this platform, the first of its kind in South Africa, took a big step forward this month as the digital lender, Lulalend, completed its Series B funding round.
In 2022, the South African Reserve Bank gave regulatory approval for a new partnership designed to exclusively serve the SME sector. The collaboration has been developed through a partnership between Lulalend and Access Bank South Africa Ltd, and will operate under the name Lula.
Lulalend, the South Africa-based digital lender catering to underserved small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), recently finalised a transformational $35 million Series B funding round. Lulalend will use the capital to accelerate the role out of Lula, as well as scale its funding business in order to address South Africa’s enduring SME credit gap, which is estimated to be valued at more than $20 billion per year.
“This cash injection will help us roll out our new business banking offering along with our partners in Access Bank. Together, we will be able to offer customers a credit-led digital-banking solution that is unique in the market. With Lula, SMEs will not only have access to a bank account tailored to their needs, but also fast access to funding via Lulalend’s existing funding solutions and an AI driven cash flow management tool to help them make better business decisions’’, says Trevor Gosling, CEO, and co-founder of Lulalend.
Despite being a vital cog in the economic development of the country, SMEs remain underserved by traditional banking institutions.
Frequently cited frustrations from business owners include high and hidden costs, impersonal or slow service, and difficulty accessing funding. This in turn impacts their bottom line through an increase in the cost and complexity of financial management. In a tough economy, for many SMEs, this ultimately becomes a challenge that reduces growth and threatens survival.
Through its partnership with Access Bank, Lulalend’s new digital banking platform will offer SMEs the ability to open an account online in minutes, tools to simplify cash flow management and access to instant, highly responsive customer support, along with ‘even faster’ business funding.
“We see SMEs as the lifeblood of the South African economy, and we are committed to playing a role in helping small businesses grow and develop. Our partnership with Lulalend will aid them in growing their offering and play a valuable role in making banking services accessible to SMEs,” says Natasha Archary, Head of Partnerships at Access Bank.
Access Bank is one of Africa’s largest commercial banks and its partnership with Lulalend will empower the lender to grow into an advanced fintech business that offers sophisticated services to SMEs. With the SARB approval enabling the partnership, both parties will proceed and expand their offering to new markets.
“By simplifying cash flow management, the launch of Lula will enable business owners to focus on what matters. We are optimistic about making a meaningful impact on our economy through partnerships,” says Gosling.
Issued by HWB Communications on behalf of Lulalend
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