West African SME service expands operations

Ovamba finalises two partnerships with international funds as it looks to provide capital to SMEs based in Cameroon.

West Africa-based funding and logistics services provider Ovamba Cameroon Solutions has entered into partnerships with two international investment firms in a bid to unlock access to capital for small and medium-sized enterprises based in Cameroon.

Crowdcredit, a P2P lender headquartered in Japan and Courtyard Capital, a UK-based investment management firm, confirmed they are working with Ovamba.

Ovamba focuses on assisting SMEs through its online platform and mobile app. According to the firm, SMEs can get a decision on whether they can qualify for assistance within 24 hours of using the service, which in that time performs a due diligence and risk management check on the borrower.

Since the firm was established in 2013, it has provided €10.5 million of capital to SMEs. The firm said that the opportunities for expansion are there, as SMEs struggle to access capital from traditional banks. The World Bank reports that there is a credit gap of more than $360 billion across the continent.

The latest partnership will focus on investments in Cameroon and support the firm’s expansion in South Africa. Crowdcredit has committed €800,000 and Courtyard is expected to commit €500,000 by the end of the year.

Ovamba co-founder Viola Llewellyn, said: “Demand for capital by SMEs is growing quickly, and it is vital that we can meet the demand. Cameroon is only the first step for us … [as we] break into new markets such as Kenya and Nigeria.”

Masahiko Yoda, head of investment at Crowdcredit, said: “The partnership enables Japanese investors to enjoy investment contributions from African trade finance while stimulating growth in the continent.”