Unilend raises fresh funding

The French online lending platform has attracted support from Bpifrance, the state-backed SME-focused debt and equity investor.

French marketplace lender, Unilend, has raised €8 million in fresh equity to fund its expansion with new hires, marketing and investment in technology, the firm’s founder, Nicolas Lesur told PDI. Two venture capital firms and state-controlled business development vehicle, Bpifrance, committed around 90 percent of the new funds, Lesur said.

The Bpifrance investment, is particularly significant, added Lesur explaining that it has a strong small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) network and may be able to help Unilend connect with potential borrowers. Bpifrance, which is state-funded, is mandated to promote the growth and financing of SMEs.

Unilend was launched in November 2013. The firm did three to four times as many deals in the first quarter of this year as it did last year, said Lesur, adding that the first quarter is a quiet time for the SMEs that the platform targets.

Venture capital firms, Ventech and 360 Capital Partners, were the other investors.

In January, Unilend announced that it had agreed a partnership with Groupama Bank, which will lend €100 million via the platform over the next four years. 

The online loan facilitator has 4,000 lenders who have funded 115 companies with a total of €9.1 million. Unilend has plans to expand beyond France but that is unlikely to happen before the end of this year, Lesur added, noting that this equity raise will contribute to that expansion.