Lidya is a Lagos-based fintech platform that seeks to provide finance to small and medium enterprises, not only in Nigeria but across the African continent. Its website offers a simple online form small business owners can use to open an account and apply for a loan. Using its own system that analyzes as many as 100 data points per applicant, Lidya can offer a decision on the loan within 72 hours.
Himself the son of entrepreneurs, founder Tunde Kehinde knows well the struggles they face, especially in developing economies. “You’re dealing with issues around power, physical infrastructure, access to finance, education–it just makes it almost insurmountable,” he says. Most commercial banks don’t see smaller firms as their target customers, yet Kehinde believes that “the real backbone of most economies is the small entrepreneur.” There is clearly an interest in the service: since Lidya launched in late 2016, over 40,000 businesses in Nigeria have registered for a Lidya loan.
In this interview, Kehinde discusses Lidya’s model, and emphasizes the company’s social mission, saying he wants to “help more disadvantaged communities, whether it’s women, whether it’s folks in rural communities or folks that have just been more or less unbanked.” Most of all, he’d like to be a household name for African entrepreneurs: “We want to be Lidya, the name they think about when they access financing.”