Absa Bank, Melanin Kapital in deal to offer unsecured loans to startups

Absa Bank Kenya has partnered with Pan African impact investment platform – Melanin Kapital – to launch an investor readiness program that places startups driving social impact on the path to accessing up to Kshs 3 million in unsecured lending.

The initiative, dubbed Tuungane2x to See Her Empowered, expects to reach 1,000 women-focused startups and enhance financial inclusion by providing them with financial training, investment-readiness capacity building, structured mentorship, structured networking, and access to finance.

The partnership leverages Absa Bank’s expertise as a wholistic financial services institution and Melanin Kapital’s knowledge in the field of impact investment, especially in connecting entrepreneurs to impact investors through providing them with funding partnerships, investor readiness training and mentorship.

While speaking during the launch of the partnership, Absa Bank’s Business Banking Director Elizabeth Wasunna said: “It has always been risky for investors and lenders to invest in small-scale businesses due to various reasons that also curtail their growth including lack of correct structures and documentations, collateral, relevant networks and track record among other challenges.”

She added: “This partnership is as a result of feedback we have received from SMEs across Kenya and especially start-ups and through it, we seek to address some of those bottlenecks with the aim of ensuring that they can survive after their 3rd birthday and beyond.”

On her part, Melanie Keïta, Melanin Kapital’s CEO said: “As a Pan African digital impact-investment platform, Melanin Kapital aims at making finance possible for early-stage impact businesses by de-risking them, making them investable and connecting them to impact-driven capital. We aim at bridging the SDG financial gap by channeling more investments towards early-stage entrepreneurs operating in Africa, looking for pre-seed, seed as well as funding that focusses on solving a critical social impact challenge.”

As part of the partnership, we have also engaged with international like-minded partners to de-risk the credit facilities to the start-ups, enabling Absa Bank to offer favorable unsecured loans, ranging from between KES100,000 to KES3 million. To qualify for funding, interested startups will have to access and register through the online program management platform – Tuungane 2X – and undertake a 6-months investment readiness program that will culminate into project pitches to impact investors as well as to Absa Bank.

For Absa, this initiative is part of an ongoing campaign targeting to impact over 1 million women entrepreneurs over the next five years through the Absa She Business Account where the bank offers financial and non-financial solutions designed to accelerate business growth.

“As a bank, we have maintained a strong inclination and commitment towards expanding the role and influence of women in businesses and our partnership with Melanin Kapital is yet another of many of such activities we engage in. In addition, we are committed to continue supporting Micro and Small Enterprises to develop resilience mechanisms to enable them to withstand different social, economic & political circumstances,” Wasunna added.

The Melanin Kapital “Tuungane 2X program” joins the Absa Woman initiative, “To See Her Empowered”, and hence the name Tuungane 2X To See Her Empowered”. The capacity building program aims at empowering women’s small and medium businesses which are the next generation of African women multinational companies by providing them fundraising training, mentorship, business acceleration, access to networking opportunities and access to finance, said Keïta.

Absa Bank Kenya has been operating for over 104 years (previously called Barclays Bank of Kenya) and has established an extensive network of 85 branches, 230 ATMs and 374 agents spread across the country and a complement of online and mobile channels. ABSA Bank’s services can also be accessed countrywide through PostBank’s 600 agency banking outlets.

As a Pan African digital impact-investment platform, Melanin Kapital aims to make finance possible for early-stage impact businesses by de-risking them, making them investable and connect them to impact-driven capital. The firm supports early-stage entrepreneurs operating in Africa, looking for pre-seed, seed and pre-series A funding that focus on solving a critical social impact challenge. Since Melanin Kapital’s inception in Germany, it has deployed its activities throughout the African and European continent, with 18 collaborators now operating from Frankfurt (Germany), Paris (France) and Nairobi (Kenya).


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