First Circle raises funding from Accion Venture Lab, Deep Blue VC to help Filipino SMEs access capital

Anisa Menur
First Circle funding

By far, First Circle has reported equity funding of US$2.5 million and an undisclosed sum of debt funding

A jeepney in rural Philippines

Filipino fintech startup First Circle today announced that it has raised an undisclosed funding from Accion Venture Lab and Deep Blue VC.

The Taguig, Metro Manila-based startup has previously raised a US$1.2 million seed funding from Key Capital, 500 Startups, and IMJ Investment Partners in October 2016.

It now reports a US$2.5 milion worth of equity funding and an undisclosed sum of debt funding.

First Circle plans to use the new funding to further develop its technology and data analytics platform, which is the reason why the startup brings in Accion Venture Lab, a seed-stage investment initiative from global non-profit organisation Accion. Accion works in supporting microfinance institutions to provide financial services to low-income communities.

The fintech startup is an online lending platform that focusses on helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It develops proprietary software and credit scoring to increase capital access to unbankable communities.

First Circle claimed that it takes only 10 minutes for business owners to sign up online for an unsecured loan, and only 24 hours for the decision.

Also Read: Indonesian P2P lending platform Amartha raises Series A, aims to disburse US$30M by end of year

The startup currently focusses on the Filipino market, where it has secured partnership with P2P invoice marketplace Acudeen Technologies.

“Providing small businesses with financing within a few days is complex. We will invest to improve our service here before we consider reaching SMEs in other parts of Southeast Asia,” said First Circle CEO Patrick Lynch.

According to Accion CEO and President Michael Schlein in a press statement, SMEs account for “more than 99 per cent” Filipino businesses, but they are having problem with securing funding to grow their business.

The Asian Development Bank has also estimated that the unmet demand for capital for SMEs in Southeast Asia falls at US$50 billion.

Earlier in March, Australian fintech startup Peppermint Innovations announced that the Philippine Central Bank (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, BSP) has granted approval for its local partner MyWeps International to conduct its Mobile Remittance Commercial Pilot programme.

Claiming to be the first of its kind in the country, the programme allows unbanked societies to use different kinds of financial services through a network of individual remittance agents.

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Image Credit: plotnikov / 123RF Stock Photo

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