Lulalend, based in Cape Town, South Africa, is an online lending platform for small businesses, a segment that is poorly served by the country’s traditional banks. As co-founder and CEO Trevor Gosling explains in this interview, Lulalend has developed a system that uses various data points to analyze a loan applicant’s financial health, business model, and cash flow potential, so it can make sound decisions on creditworthiness. Working capital is the lifeblood of a small business — as Gosling puts it, “Giving them access to finance allows them to build their business… and as the company grows it gives them the ability to employ more people [and] increase job creation.”
In a recent survey run by Lulalend to local SMEs, 69 percent stated that access to funding could significantly help their business grow. When asked what their biggest funding need was 65 percent stated working capital — followed by 42 percent for marketing purposes, 34 percent for investing in staff, and 30 percent for expansion of their business. The importance of working capital is even further supported by the statistics Lulalend has seen with the loan purposes stated when business owners apply for funding. According to Gosling, “…just over half of our 6,000 applications since inception have been for the purposes of working capital.”
Much like its clients, Lulalend has also faced challenges in working with local financial institutions, says Gosling. “We’ve been supported through international ventures, guys who are a little more familiar with the fintech model and what we’re doing. We know that our future success also lies in being able to partner with… banks in South Africa.”
Yet despite its difficulties, Gosling still finds his work very satisfying. “There’s no point in doing a job that doesn’t get you out of bed in the morning,” he says. “Impacting lives is potentially the biggest thing you can do.”
This interview took place at the June 2017 CEO Forum and Fintech for Inclusion Global Summit, hosted by Accion Venture Lab, FMO, and Quona Capital.
Lulalend and Accion Venture Lab have partnered since 2016.