Fintech SME lender liwwa raises $21M in equity & debt to fuel regional expansion


FMO leads a $6 million equity investment into DASH portfolio company liwwa. As part of the round, liwwa also raised $15 million in debt. Other equity investors include 500 Startups, Chris Larsen, Edgo VC, EFG-EV, and Wamda. Existing investors Bank al Etihad, DASH Ventures and Silicon Badia also participated in the financing. The equity round marks liwwa’s expansion into Egypt, a market characterized by high growth and limited access to capital.

liwwa is a technology-enabled lender focused on providing capital to small businesses in Jordan and Egypt. The company has provided roughly $40 million in debt to qualifying SMEs. liwwa employs technology across its operation to deliver loans of up to $100,000 to qualifying borrowers in approximately two days. The company’s proprietary credit models have yielded exceptional portfolio quality with arrears of roughly 2.7%. liwwa’s debt marketplace – accessible at liwwa.com – has allowed the company to sell investments to hundreds of retail investors in MENA.

Jaap Reinking, director Private Equity at FMO commented, “Improving access to finance for SMEs in emerging markets by supporting technology-enabled businesses models is at the heart of the agenda of the new FMO Ventures Program.”

The FMO Ventures Program is an initiative of FMO. The EUR 200 million program is supported by contributions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands as well as by a guarantee from the European Commission. The Program aims to help develop emerging markets by investing in early-stage technology-enabled innovative business models. The Program focuses on direct investments in young start-up and scale-up companies in fintech, energy access and agritech, as well as on indirect (fund) investments in Venture Capital funds, predominantly in Africa and the European neighborhood but the Program also has an allocation for Asia.

liwwa will use the investment proceeds to continue its rapid growth in both Jordan and Egypt, countries with a dire need for capital investment. “We see enormous potential in these markets and we’re committed to our mission of delivering jobs where they’re needed,” said Ahmed Moor, liwwa’s co-founder and CEO.

“Innovative start-ups, such as liwwa, are often led by young entrepreneurs and have high development impact potential,” Reinking said.

“SMEs in developing countries like Jordan and Egypt are frequently underserved by traditional banks and other financial institutions. However, a flourishing SME sector is key for creation of local employment; liwwa leverages technology to help these businesses grow and prosper,” he continued.

liwwa has developed a range of lending products and will aim to develop other, non-loan services for its SME customers. “In time we aim to offer the whole range of products an SME may need to thrive in our markets,” said Moor. “FMO Ventures Program brings deep industry experience which has helped guide us, and will continue to do so. We’re delighted to be working with the team there as we go deeper into Jordan and Egypt and eventually to new markets.”

Click below to see a video on liwwa’s work in Jordan: