Accion Venture Lab and Artha Initiative Close Series A Fundraising Round in Artoo

India-Based FinTech startup’s holistic CRM solution improves lending institutions’ customer experience; unlocks new markets; and promotes access to finance for traditionally risky customers 

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2015Accion Venture Lab and Switzerland-based Rianta Capital Zurich's Artha Initiative announced today that their recent investments in Artoo had successfully completed the startup’s Series A fundraising round. The two firms join Villgro Innovations Foundation, a prominent local impact investor, which led the seed round last year.

Artoo relies on the power of mobile, cloud, and alternative data to bring banking and financial services to the poor. Artoo’s customer relationship manager solution offers a complete suite of modules, such as lead management, loan origination, and credit underwriting. Working with clients in microfinance, micro, small, and medium enterprise lending, as well as  mainstream banking, Artoo currently disburses $3 million in loans, a figure that is increasing by 20% each month.

Ujjivan Financial Services, a leading microfinance institution in India, is using Artoo in over 300 branch locations for its individual lending operations. There, Artoo’s work has resulted in a 400 percent improvement in productivity, a 40 percent drop in customer acquisition cost, and a 40 percent reduction in loan turn-around time, representing a 3-8 month return on investment. While traditional lending in this sector uses generic underwriting methods, Artoo has developed unique tools such as occupation-specific templates to capture the nuances of volatile cash flows and assess borrower creditworthiness and a scenario analysis tool to predict customer behavior in turbulent times. Artoo’s paperless solution also uses biometrics to address borrower authentication and provides rich data insights to help banks improve loan performance and reach new categories of borrowers.

“There are roughly 2.5 billion people without access to formal financial services, many of whom live in extremely remote geographies,” said Michael Schlein, CEO and President of Accion. “Innovative financial technology startups like Artoo help lending institutions overcome once-insurmountable distances by providing field staff with the reliable and intuitive tools they need to help reach new clients anywhere. This is essential if we are to achieve the goal that everyone should have the financial tools they need to help secure their economic futures, regardless of where they live or work.”

Since its launch in May 2010, Artoo has served more than seven million end-users. The startup is capitalizing on the dropping costs of tablets and smartphones, as well as the concurrent expansion of global internet access. Artoo’s human centered design approach has enabled them to gain an in-depth understanding of lending institutions and borrower needs, rapidly customizing the product to meet individual nuances. This customized approach has led to superior adoption in the field.

“We want to improve quality of life for the poor by improving access to financial services. Our solution is unlocking a huge potential for lending institutions, allowing them to improve customer experience, to scale deeper by offering tailored financial products and to lend to a segment with undocumented, volatile income while reducing risk. We are excited to have Accion onboard. Their network and understanding of new age financial services will be extremely valuable as we look to expand internationally, build more data-centric tools and create personalized financial products, in a space which is providing limited or no options.” said Sameer Segal, Founder & CEO of Artoo.

Artoo is currently the 19th investment in Venture Lab’s portfolio. Venture Lab is a $10 million initiative dedicated to providing seed capital and management support to innovative startups expanding financial access to the poor and underserved. Venture Lab has a number of lending companies in its portfolio around the world, and coupled with Accion’s broader network of microfinance institutions and lenders, this most recent investment in Artoo opens up a range of synergies and opportunities for partnership across the portfolio, ultimately delivering greater access and value to the financially underserved.

 

About Accion Venture Lab

Accion Venture Lab is the leading seed-stage investment firm for financial inclusion. Accion Venture Lab, since inception in 2012, has invested in 19 enterprises and screened nearly 1,000 companies in the financial inclusion space. V-Lab is part of Accion, a world pioneer in microfinance who over the last 40 years has helped build 63 microfinance institutions (MFIs) in 32 countries on four continents. Four of V-Lab’s 19 investments work in India, and Accion has worked actively in the India market for several years, including through early investments in microfinance institutions, Swadhaar and Saija.

 

About Rianta Capital Zurich’s Artha Initiative 

The Artha Initiative is focused on impact investment in social enterprise in India, with a concentration on the agriculture, livelihoods and small-scale renewable energy sectors. This program is committed to principles of sustainability in the impact created by motivated entrepreneurs seeking to create appropriate products and services for the BoP. Rianta Capital Zurich is an investment advisory based in Zurich that provides advice and management support to the trusts and investment companies associated with its Principal Family. For more information on the Artha Platform or the Artha Venture Challenge through which the Artoo investment was facilitated, please visit http://www.arthaplatform.com/ and http://www.arthaventurechallenge.com.

 

Media Contact:

Ben Lebeaux

Blebeaux@accion.org

617.625.7080 ext. 1037