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UK fintech Flow48 raises $25M to bridge the lending gap for minority and women-led SMEs

Flow48 Founders
Picture credits: Flow48

In times of economic downturns, UK high street lenders have a history of scaling back capital access for SMEs. Consequently, a wave of London-based startups has emerged to address this gap in lending solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises. Notable examples include Triver, iwoca, and the latest contender gaining attention, Flow48.

This one is from UAE and now also based in London and has introduced a platform, leveraging fintech to offer inclusive, real-time lending solutions to SMEs, with a focus on minority and women-led businesses. 

Now, the fintech has secured $25 million in pre-Series A funding. The round, comprised a mix of equity and debt, and included notable investors such as Speedinvest (that has backed fintech unicorns like wefox, Bitpanda, and Curve), Daphni, 212, Blockchain Founders Fund, Unpopular Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst, and TLG, as well as angel investors among which Scott Sandell from NEA.

This round will help Flow48 help SMEs and expand its offerings to insurance, payments, and other financial services. 

Founded by Idriss Al Rifai in 2022, Flow48 also plans to venture into South Africa, attracted by its robust SME lending market and fintech ecosystem. Flow48 also wants to contribute to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) principles, focusing on empowering underrepresented segments within the SME sector. Notably, the startup has prioritised funding SMEs owned by minorities and women, fostering inclusivity and diversity in the business landscape.

“What Flow48 is bringing to the table is not just innovative, it’s essential for SME growth in the region’s economic landscape. As we look ahead, the potential for Flow48 to expand beyond Revenue Based Financing is very exciting. The team is on track to become a full-service fintech solution for SMEs and expand their offerings to insurance, payments, and other financial services,” remarked Enrique Martinez Hausmann, Principal at Speedinvest.

“We believe that if the gap in financing exists for everyone and every industry, the hurdle is even higher if you are a woman or from a minority background”, said Flow48 founder Idriss Al Rifai. “What we offer can be vital for these small business owners. We are contributing to building a more equitable economic environment”.

Reflecting on this strategic expansion, Shabir Vasram from Daphni emphasised: “In a context where access to financing is more challenging, it is crucial to have a data-driven approach and better score companies.”

Numan Numan, Founding Partner at 212 added, “Flow48 exemplifies the ideal partner profile for us at 212. Their innovative approach to a significant problem (SME financing gap in target regions), combined with their remarkable team, aligns perfectly with our values. We are also particularly impressed by their capacity to attract seasoned investors, each bringing a unique perspective, in pursuit of a common objective. We are very enthusiastic to join this alliance led by Flow48 team and look forward to what is ahead.”

“At Endeavor, we have witnessed a new generation of serial tech founders in the Middle East who are solving worldwide problems at a large scale. Our journey supporting Idriss Al Rifai goes back to 2015, when we first invested in his second company, Fetchr. Today, we proudly announce the investment on Flow48, unlocking access to capital for millions of SMEs in the region.” added Allen Taylor, Managing Partner at Endeavor Catalyst.

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