South African venture capital firm HAVAÍC has announced a $500,000 pre-Series A funding round in FinAccess, a Kenyan software solutions provider that digitises farming co-operatives and community banks, also called Savings & Credit Cooperative Organisations (SACCOs) in the region.

The investment in FinAccess will come from HAVAÍC’s $20 million Universum Core African Fund which focuses on funding early-stage, post-revenue seed and later-stage growth Series A start-ups born in Africa that use technology to solve real-world local, regional, and international challenges while making an impact in the markets they serve.

Founded in 2017, FinAccess has two core products. The first one is FinCore, a micro-banking system designed to power back-office operations. The second Grobox, is a data visibility solution for dairy cooperatives that tracks milk production to help co-ops make informed decisions and increase their access to credit.

The startup also has a third product called Mango Engine, a digital platform that powers new ways of saving and lending for co-ops and other social savings groups.

Speaking on the funding round, CEO of FinAccess Barclay Paul Okari stated that financial inclusion for underserved Africans is at the heart of FinAccess’ business model.

“Digitisation ultimately releases credit and other vital financial services so farmers can increase their productivity and efficiency. We are very excited to partner with HAVAÍC and bring our software solutions to more African communities,” he added.

For HAVAÍC Partner Rob Heath, “FinAccess is 100% aligned with [HAVAÍC’s] investment thesis to make an impact by supporting early-stage, high-potential companies that solve real-world challenges through technology. We look forward to supporting their unfolding growth journey across Kenya and beyond.”

According to data from the World Bank, agriculture accounts for 53% of employment in Africa but despite that significant contribution to job creation, only 1% of lending by banks goes to agriculture. SACCOs and co-ops, which come about when communities come together to pool and invest savings, are normally used by farmers who cannot get access to credit from banks.

FinAccess will use the investment by HAVAÍC to expand its product offerings across Kenyan as well as other East African markets. The startup currently has live pilots underway in Uganda, with Zambia, Rwanda, and Tanzania launching in the coming months.

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