Ghana-based Fintech OZÉ Raises Seed Round

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OZÉ CEO and co-founder Meghan McCormick has achieved a lot in a short time. A native of Pennsylvania, she arrived in Africa via the Peace Corps and decided to stay and launch a fintech designed to improve access to capital for African small businesses. 

 

Between the Peace Corps and launching OZÉ with co-founder and fellow Peace Corps veteran Dave Emnett, Meghan managed to earn graduate degrees from Harvard and MIT. Plus, she got a nod of respect from CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who called himself a “schlub” (that’s American slang for “underachiever”) in the face of Meghan’s accomplishments. 

 

So it’s no great surprise that investors have made a financial vote of confidence in Meghan, Dave, and the business they’ve created. This week OZÉ announced a $700,000 seed round designed to help OZÉ expand its team, promote its product (including its new IOS app), and expand its footprint into Nigeria. 


Meghan told us the new hires will span all departments. However, the emphasis will be on hiring salespeople. OZÉ will also be doubling its tech team. OZÉ currently sells directly but is exploring an affiliate marketing program as well.

 

Meghan expects the seed round to carry OZÉ through the next 12 to 18 months, with an A round coming within that time frame.

 

Investors participating in the round included both venture and angel investors. Among those chipping in were Anorak Ventures, Matuca Sarl, and Rising Tide Africa (a Nigerian angle investing group). These new players joined existing OZÉ investors Ingressive Capital and MEST. 

 

OZÉ was founded to address the massive credit gap facing African small, medium-sized, and micros businesses. That gap, according to OZÉ, is $331 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

 

This gap is of course a challenge for small businesses that need capital to function. But OZÉ points out that it’s a missed opportunity for lenders. OZÉ contends African lenders are leaving as much as $80 billion in potential interest income on the table. 

 

So how does OZÉ address these challenges? To date, this has been difficult to do, with many businesses operating on paper records, by owners with little formal business education or credit histories. Lenders, understandably, were wary of the risk.

 

To solve this, OZÉ has developed a credit risk algorithm that helps lenders make better lending decisions about small businesses. 

 

“The OZÉ Flywheel makes profitable lending to MSMEs possible for banks,”  Meghan said. “Using OZÉ already screens for the type of entrepreneurs banks should want to lend to and as entrepreneurs keep using OZÉ  they can access more funds at a lower risk to the bank.”

 

OZÉ also helps small businesses organize their financial lives via an app (launched as a beta in 2018) that allows small businesses to track their sales, expenses, and customer information, and generally organize their operations. Since its launch, the app has processed about 250,000 transactions, valued at about US$50 million. 

 

To encourage engagement, the company has gamified the process by awarding users with coins as they track sales and expenses. It also sends out payment reminders to the app users’ customers. OZÉ also offers a business coaching service to its customers. 


Meghan tells us that OZÉ, founded in 2018, has designs on expanding into francophone countries, including DRC, Guinea, and Benin via partnerships. and eventually Côte d’Ivoire. Kenya and Egypt are o the longer-term horizon.

 

Editor’s Note: OZÉ CEO & Co-founder Meghan McCormick will be a guest on an upcoming episode of the BIG5D podcast. 

 

BigFive Digital will also be conducting a Small Business Fintech Virtual Summit on 10 March from 2 pm to 5 pm SAST. Stay tuned for details. 


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