BeneFactors is a factoring company that provides working capital solutions to SMEs across all sectors of the Rwandan economy.
Olivia Zank, the founder and CEO of BeneFactors, started out as an advisor in the Rwandan Ministry of Trade. She was responsible for promoting the exports of small and medium-sized enterprises, but soon noticed that access to capital was the biggest problem that Rwandan SMEs faced. Too big for microfinancing and too small for commercial bank lending, these companies were often left without the financial means to deliver on their promised exports. The ministry worked with banks to convince them to lend to SMEs, but its efforts largely failed. Frustrated, Olivia founded BeneFactors and set up office in the basement of a hotel.
BeneFactors provides factoring services to firms in “the missing middle.” Factoring is when a seller hands over their invoices to a third party. The third party pays the invoice and collects payment from the original buyer when it’s due. “We’re a company that was founded to provide short-term working capital to financially excluded SMEs,” Olivia says. Six hundred percent growth in both 2018 and 2019 demonstrates that it was a forward-thinking idea. Now with a team of eleven and handling $750,000 in assets, the company has moved out of that original basement office and has ambitions to expand into other countries.
BeneFactors was self-financed before receiving loans from friends and family. It closed a pre-seed round of $190,000 in 2018 and raised $850,000 in debt capital in August 2019, largely through the credit line of a local bank.
- Hiring the first staff members and settling the first invoices in October 2017.
- Closing the pre-seed round and raising $190,000 in 2018.
- Moving from a hotel basement to an actual office.
- Closing a debt round in August 2019.
Main Photo by: Simon Skipper