Pivo, a Nigerian female-led startup that provides freight carriers with a bank account, debit card, and digital invoicing tools to track payments, has secured $2 million in seed funding. The round saw the participation of investors such as Mercy Corps, Vested World, Precursor Ventures, FoundersX, and Y Combinator. Following the latest round, Pivo has raised a total of $2.55 million since it launched.
Pivo was founded by the female duo; Nkiru Amadi-Emina and Ijeoma Akwiwu, in July 2021. Pivo is the first all-female founded team that Y Combinator has backed in Nigeria and the second in the whole of Africa, after the now-defunct Ghanaian startup Tress.
The new funding will be used to better existing products, build new ones, hire necessary talents and fuel its out-of-Lagos expansion plans, and eventually plans to venture into other African countries (with a focus on East Africa).
The startup offers financial services like credit, payments, and expense management to SME vendors within large supply chains. CEO Nkiru Amadi-Emina worked in this industry before launching Pivo with Ijeoma Akwiwu.
Pivo’s CEO, who launched an on-demand delivery platform in 2017 targeted at e-commerce brands in North and Central Africa and subsequently acquired by Kobo360, witnessed the challenges that existed at both ends of the logistics supply chain. “In most cases, we found out that managing cash flow was the primary issue for these businesses — it was either nonexistent or just paper-based. A lot of the payments made were made with cash and we thought to build a digital bank that provides financial services geared towards solving these various problems for SME vendors that operate within large manufacturing supply chains, starting first and foremost with the logistics providers, and then gradually moving to the supplier pockets and at the tail end of things,” the CEO said.
The startup, therefore, leverages manufacturing supply chain operations and offers financial services to SMEs within this ecosystem; truckers in this case. Pivo Capital, its credit product, gives truckers a payment alternative and the logistics company the ability to deal with any upfront costs such as fuel costs and allowance for drivers which are typically incurred during operations.
Pivo Business, another product for payment reconciliation, allows these small businesses to facilitate payments via peer-to-peer transactions and track payment with debit cards enabled with spend control features.
Speaking on competition from e-logistics firms, Pivo’s CEO said that “As a plug-and-play and embedded solution, we’ve always been more complimentary than competitive. If you look at e-logistics firms, the goal for them is to move towards a platform approach and if at any point in time they want to unlock financial services, we tell them to come to PIVO for that instead of going to the traditional banks.”
Currently, Pivo serves 500 SMEs. It makes revenue from processing fees and interests on capital. According to Pivo’s CEO, Pivo Capital has disbursed more than $3 million to SMEs and has a repayment rate of 98 percent. Pivo Business, on the other hand, grew 400 percent between April and September 2022. Pivo has also had a total volume of $4.7 million from July till date.
For the startup, the next step is to continue growing, according to its CEO. Pivo is currently working on a new product called Pivo+, with the aim of becoming a full-fledged financial services platform. Pivo+ will provide value-added services. “It is a great thing that we were able to break that barrier as a female-led start-up. Getting into YC gave us validation as founders and cemented the fact that women can be at the helm of affairs in the tech space. Tech is a male-dominated space and all these man-made barriers exist that serve to keep women out. Getting into YC, with the news amplified not just locally but internationally means more people get to see strong female representation coming from Nigeria. We’re glad that a female founder somewhere looks at us and gains an awareness that it is possible that if you keep putting in the hard work, applying yourself, and have the numbers to back it all up, you can achieve what you set out to,” Chief Operation Officer Ijeoma Akwiwu commented on the funding.