Nigeria’s Pivo is an all-in-one financial services platform for supply chain SMEs

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Nigerian startup Pivo is providing an all-in-one financial services platform for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the supply chain sector, offering them access to banking, lending and insurance solutions.

Formed by Ijeoma Akwiwu and Nkiru Amadi-Emina in July 2021 and launched in public beta in September, Pivo is targeted at any business that deals with the import, export, manufacture, distribution and retail of FMCG, logistics and haulage, and clearing and forwarding. 

Pivo has three main products. Pivo Capital, its flagship product, gives SMEs access to loans worth as much as US$50,000. Pivo Finance, meanwhile, offers customers access to a digital-only banking solution, while Pivo Plus, offers access to insurance, corporate compliance and tax regulation support.

“Pivo was born out of a problem we previously encountered from another business that Nkiru and I ran together,” Akwiwu told Disrupt Africa. “It was a company that used big data to source raw material and connect importers and exporters. The recurring issue was that our customers struggled to execute large client orders because of inadequate financing, and as such missed out on significant business opportunities because legacy banks were not willing to provide the capital to support their transactions.”

The pair built Pivo to solve these issues.

“There is a clear supply chain finance gap for SMEs that is not being met by traditional banking institutions and other lending services companies. Considering the peculiarities of the sector, these businesses often have a narrow window to fully or partially execute orders which means they have a short time to access credit/working capital. Legacy banks do not appear to be providing convenient solutions that understand and effectively solve these problems for them,” said Akwiwu.

Pivo brings a niche approach to providing these solutions, which Akwiwu believes, combined with its sector-specific experience, gives it an edge over other fintechs operating in the space. The startup is also funded, having secured pre-seed investment from investors including First Check Africa, Ventures Platform, Microtraction and Mercy Corps Ventures, and is gearing up to raise its seed round later this year. Meanwhile, Pivo is recording 7X month-on-month growth.

“By the end of Q4 2021, we had processed over US$1 million in loan applications, and we see us doing more than 10X of that this quarter,” Akwiwu said.

“We knew this was going to be an audacious task before we started Pivo, but we are go-getters and move strategically. We can proudly say that our niche approach, industry experience and expertise has made it a bit easier to navigate this terrain and spot the opportunities that exist. We know and understand what our customers’ pain points are and know exactly how to tailor our services to meet their business needs. We have started out with lending but are currently seeing a high demand for the other products in our roadmap.”

Pivo is currently only operating in Nigeria but it has plans in place to scale and expand to other identified emerging markets like Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia by the end of this year.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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