Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Entrepreneurship -

Based in Am­man, Li­wwa is a crowd­fund­ing and in­vest­ment plat­form that was founded by Pales­tinian entrepreneurs Ahmed Moor and Samer Atiani, dur­ing Har­vard Univer­sity’s In­no­va­tion Lab in 2013. The plat­form con­nects small busi­nesses in need of cap­i­tal with fi­fi­fixed-in­come in­vestors, and ad­dresses the prob­lem of ex­tremely low fi­nanc­ing rates in the re­gion, which make it very hard for SMES to get a loan. The com­pany’s mis­sion is to de­liver job and in­come growth by help­ing to close the $240B SME fund­ing gap in the MENA re­gion. The com­pany’s first year of op­er­at­ing saw it lend $1.8M to 81 small busi­nesses and has cur­rent ap­pli­ca­tions for over $50M from qual­i­fied com­pa­nies.

The peer-to-peer lend­ing startup fo­cuses mainly on pro­vid­ing loans to small busi­nesses, op­er­at­ing al­most en­tirely on­line and sourc­ing cap­i­tal from re­tail and in­sti­tu­tional lenders, rather than de­pos­i­tors. The plat­form al­lows bor­row­ers such as SMES to ac­cess cap­i­tal and ap­ply for small busi­ness loans while in­vestors earn reg­u­lar monthly re­turns on their in­vest­ments and grow/ di­ver­sify their in­vest­ment port­fo­lios. Li­wwa con­ducts in-house re­views of the small busi­nesses’ cred­i­bil­ity and has two rev­enue streams, first they col­lect 2% of ev­ery pay­ment that a bor­rower makes into the net­work, and they also lend their own money to bor­row­ers.

In March 2015, Li­wwa raised $500,000 in a seed round led by DASH Ven­tures, with Bank Al Eti­had and MENA Ven­ture In­vest­ments, and in April 2016, it raised $2.3M in a Se­ries A round led by Sil­i­con Ba­dia’s Ba­dia Im­pact Fund, with DASH Ven­tures and Samih Toukan, Chair­man of Jab­bar In­ter­net Group, par­tic­i­pat­ing in eq­uity fi­nanc­ing, thus rais­ing $2.8M in to­tal. Li­wwa plan to use the fund­ing to de­velop their abil­ity to as­sess ap­pli­cants us­ing tech­nol­ogy rather than tra­di­tional credit rat­ings as well as grow their un­der­writ­ing ca­pac­ity in Jor­dan and the MENA re­gion while open­ing the com­pany’s New York soft­ware devel­op­ment and data cen­ter.

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