Ghanaian fintech Float raises $17M seed to power cash flow for commerce in Africa

For many businesses in Africa, cash flow is one of the main factors of degression businesses. Research showed that after a service or product has been served, the payment cycle can let anywhere between 30-90 days.

This has become a business canker especially for small and medium-sized businesses and many startups are trying solutions day in and day out. One of such fintech is Ghanaian startup Float. Float provides credit lines for businesses and has raised $17 million to fund and expand geographically.

Float was initially known as Swipe in 2020 when it was started by Mr. Jesse Ghansah and Mr. Barima Effah. It officially launched in June 2021 after rebranding.

“We needed credit and proceeded to get an overdraft from a long-term partner bank where we had transacted more than $100,000. But the bank wanted us to deposit 100% collateral in cash before they could give the overdraft,” the two-time YC founder told TechCrunch in a June interview.

“I also remember taking money from loan sharks with ridiculous interest rates, sometimes as high as 20% a month, to meet payroll. That threw me into solving those problems with Float.”

Banking on research that says 51% of 44 million small and medium businesses need more access to financial aid in order to grow, Float came to provide credit to these businesses that find it challenging to get aid from traditional banks.

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Aside from the provision of financial aid, Float also has software tools to help business owners manage their accounts and wallets, automate bills, vendor or supplier payments, and invoice collections all in one dashboard. The aim of the company is to serve as an all-in-one inclusive “financial operating system” for African small and medium businesses.

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The platform also has features such as invoice advance, opening business accounts, payment links, managing budgets, and spend cards.

Quite recently, Float introduced new features; revenue advance and instant payouts. Instant payouts are meant for businesses to tap into their revenues instantly instead of using others which can take days to settle. Invoice factoring helps businesses with outstanding invoices get cash advances.

The CEO, Mr. Ghansah, said the features provide different forms of credit for different industries across the continent.

“The big challenge is that credit needs of businesses are very different. The credit needs of retail are very different from the credit needs of a services business, or the credit needs of agriculture, business or pharmaceutical or medical supplies businesses,” said the chief executive.

“So we are trying to dig deep into which credit products work for certain verticals. And so that’s what we’ve been working on so far.”

Float has been in business for seven months and already the response for the cash flow management and spend platform has been well received by all including retail and manufacturing, fintech, e-commerce, media, and health.

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Prospa, Brass, and Sparkle are other startups that also provide financial and cash flow support and software services to businesses in Africa.

Even though they all share similar goals and policies, each company claims not to see the other as a competition. Firstly because they believe there is a large market, big enough for all of them to co-exist. Secondly, each feels that their products are of a high value than the other.

Float believes they stand out from the lot because they give access to both financial and software services and also provide flexible and short-duration working capital instead of outright expensive loans.

“I think that a part of how we differentiate ourselves is just how flexible our credit is, in terms of the speed of access, how quickly you can draw down on credit,” said Ghansah. “And then, like it’s flexible in terms of how you can just take it out for a day and then repay the next day, for example.”

Float says it has plans underway to use the new capital to set up entities in Kenya and South Africa as soon as its given license to operate. 

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The company will also use the investment to improve its cash management platform and launch new credit products tailored to specific business verticals and industries.

“Float set out on a mission to provide more cash flow and liquidity for millions of businesses across the continent to help them grow and reach their true potential,” said the chief executive in a statement.

“With this new funding, we will continue to refine both our credit and software products to deliver the best experiences for our fast-growing customer base. We are excited to be the growth partner of choice for businesses in Africa.” 

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