Financial tech startup SoLo Funds, a mobile peer-to-peer lending exchange, has raised $1.2 million in venture capital to help solve emergency cash needs with low-dollar-amount loans that reduce the need for payday loans.
Seventy-eight percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and 47 percent couldn’t come up with $400 of emergency cash without borrowing from someone or selling something, according to the SoLo website. That’s the problem SoLo is trying to solve, while removing payday and title loans from the equation. The socially driven marketplace connects borrowers and lenders to exchange low-value funds.
We understand how difficult it is to get a loan under $1,000 and the trouble of living with financial stress, because we’ve lived it ourselves,” the founders say on their website. “We realized that we weren’t alone.”
Richelieu Dennis, the new owner of Essence Magazine and founder and CEO of Sundial Brands, led the $1.2 million venture round, according to Crunchbase.
By buying Essence, Dennis restored full Black ownership to one of the U.S.’s most iconic media brands. Other investors in the SoLo funding round include Queen City Angels, Qey Capital, Monique Idlett-Mosley, and JumpStart Inc., according to Crunchbase.
Cincinnati-based SoLo Funds was founded by CEO Travis Holoway, Lisnr co-founder Rodney Williams, Jarrel Carter, and Taylor Conophy.
The mobile money exchange and lending platform aren’t just for U.S. borrowers and lenders. SoLo connects lenders and borrowers around the world.
Williams talked at Black Tech Week Miami 2018 about his vision for SoLo, including plans to incorporate blockchain technology into the platform:
“SoLo has a real grand vision,” Williams said. “It’s the vision of the mom in Nigeria who needs $20 for seeds for her farm and Ricky in Los Angeles being able to loan her and for her to pay him back … For us to actually go after that vision, that company (SoLo) may incorporate some blockchain technology as an interface but the consumer will never know. That’s using the technology to build a great company behind it. That’s what I want to do.”