Lipa Later: Story, Founders, Investors & Funding Rounds
Founded in 2018 by Eric Muli, Lipa Later started as a program to help internal employees access mobile phones that’d allow them to be efficient at work. Muli had initially founded Alpha Force Security Ltd, a company that dispatches security guards to homes and offices in Kenya.
In 2017, Alpha Force started a mobile phone financing program for their employees—especially their guards—but found out there was no company offering a mobile phone BNPL solution, so they decided to tackle it themselves.
Since there was no BNPL company focused on mobile phones in Kenya; the ones available, like M-Kopa, are mostly into solar power. So Lipa Later capitalized on this throughout 2017 and put hundreds of mobile phones in the hands of their employees and later external people.
Helping their employees to get mobile phones was a kind of pilot; it brought them close to the market and, as a result, they realized that for every one Alpha guard that received a phone, there were hundreds of people outside who needed one but couldn’t afford it.
So, after some research, Muli and his team became certain that they could extend this solution to more Kenyans; and in 2018, they built a tech-enabled product and launched it to the public.
Within 3 years of operation, Lipa Later extended its offers into more retail options like electronics, furniture, home appliances, etc.
Other than the traditional offline method of buyers purchasing items in stores, Lipa Later has tapped into the rapidly growing online presence across Africa and built a unique BNPL option API that integrates into e-commerce platforms and enables merchants to sell products directly to consumers and pay for them in affordable monthly installments.
Lipa Later leverages data analytics to provide consumers with access to convenient and affordable credit. Its proprietary credit scoring and machine learning system enable a consumer to sign up and get a credit limit in seconds, without the need for bulky documentation and a lengthy approval process.
The company is now planning to enter Tanzania, Ghana, and Nigeria, and expand in its existing markets, which are Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.
How it Works
Traditional financial services don’t make it easy for customers to purchase items on credit. Some potential customers are unable to pay the full amount up front even if they could afford to responsibly finance the purchase in installments.
Retailers lose out when customers can’t buy what they want when they need it, and their customers lose out too. This impacts brand loyalty, repeat business, and their bottom line.
Lipalater’s platform, powered by a proprietary credit model, enables retailers to sell their products to customers, on credit, at the point of sale, with customers paying for their purchases in affordable, monthly installments.
Lipa Later’s proprietary credit scoring and machine learning system enable the consumer to sign up and get a credit limit in seconds without the need for bulky documentation and a lengthy credit approval process.
The company also offers an offline solution for merchants and small-scale retailers that have not yet moved online. He also said Lipa Later has served about 200,000 customers so far and maintained a 100% year-on-year growth.
Lipa Later is not only changing the consumer credit landscape across Africa, which to date has been largely inaccessible for most, but also catalyzing the future of shopping, e-commerce, and payments.
They’ve done this in a true product- and the customer-led way that benefits both merchants and consumers and has proven to be incredibly scalable across multiple markets.
Additionally, one of Lipa Later’s cards is its wide array of exclusive merchants and world-renowned brands such as Carrefour, Apple, Tecno, and Samsung just to mention a few, a strategy it has used to stay atop the market in East Africa and one it intends to carry along to the new markets.
Eric Muli is the Founder and Group CEO at Lipa Later Group.
As a Kenyan entrepreneur, Muli has developed a strong passion for community development and impact investing and participates in a variety of community uplifting projects in both Kenya and the United States.
He is currently the president of Africa’s first rating and review platform, Zabamba.
He is hoping to launch a similar platform for college students in the United States.
Eric Muli attended Babson College.
Michael Maina is a Chief Operating Officer at Lipa Later Ltd.
He attended the Kenya School of Law.
Investors & Funding Rounds
Lateral Capital, Platform Capital
Lipa Later has raised $12 million pre-series A to expand across Africa. This brings the company’s total funding to about $16 million to date.
The funding, which is a mix of equity and debt, was co-led by GreenHouse Capital and Lateral Frontiers VC, which led the company’s seed investment.
The round also saw participation from Cauris Finance, SOSV IV LLC, Sayani Investments, and Axian Financial Services.
This new fund will allow the company to provide its buy-now-pay-later services to its current pipeline of consumers, solidify its presence in current markets—Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda—and expand into new markets such as Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, and Tanzania.
The BNPL movement is waxing strong in Africa and so is the competition it brings. Lipa Later, even though it’s one of the early companies in the space in Kenya, has a lot of companies with the capital war chest to contend market share with.
Finja: This is a financial services platform that offers payments, lending, and collection services to professionals and SMEs.
IndiaLends: It is a digital lending and borrowing marketplace that connects borrowers with lenders to help them access affordable credit.
Athena: This is an Australian home loan platform that helps to get better home loans.
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