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Filipino Startup First Circle raises funding from global investors

First Circle, a fintech SME lender in South East Asia, has announced investments from Accion Venture Lab, the seed-stage investment initiative of financial inclusion leader Accion, and Deep Blue VC.

Based in the Philippines, First Circle uses technology to lend to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at scale. The startup raised $1.2m in October 2016 in a seed investment round led by Dublin- and London-based Key Capital and supported by San Francisco-based 500 Startups and Singapore-based IMJ Investment Partners.

With the latest investments, the startup now has equity funding of $2.5m USD – from Accion Venture Lab, Deep Blue VC, 500 Startups, IMJ, and Key Capital – along with an undisclosed sum of debt funding.

In its official release, the company said that it will use the investment funds to further develop its technology and data analytics platform. To this end, it welcomes Accion Venture Lab, the world's leading seed-stage investor in fintech for the underserved. Venture Lab invests capital in, and provides support to, innovative fintech startups that increase access to, improve the quality of, or reduce the cost of financial services for the underserved at scale.

"Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises account for more than 99 percent of Filipino businesses, but often can't get the funding they need to grow and thrive," said Michael Schlein, CEO and President of Accion. "First Circle can help these businesses and their employees by providing the financing they need – and ultimately developing a more inclusive financial sector."

"We are thrilled to partner with Patrick and the First Circle team to advance access to capital for small businesses in the Philippines and beyond. The combined use of both traditional and alternative data and automated processes to acquire and understand potential borrowers can help First Circle expand access to credit quickly and efficiently at a low cost," said Vikas Raj, Accion Venture Lab's Managing Director.


First Circle plans to deepen its market leading position in the Philippines before venturing to new markets.

"Providing small businesses with financing within a few days is complex. We will invest to improve our service here before we consider reaching SMEs in other parts of Southeast Asia," said First Circle CEO Patrick Lynch.

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