Creating financial futures


Into Africa: Irish start-up wins funding to lend to emerging markets

Irish fintech start-up Umba, which facilitates micro-loans to emerging economies in Africa, has closed a funding round with two leading Irish venture capital firms that will pave the way for the company to lend up to €1 million a month.

The company, which was started by former Munster rugby professional Barry O’Mahony and co-founder Tiernan Kennedy.

The firm was established to meet the needs of the rapidly-growing African mobile payments and debt market. It already has 170,000 customers in Africa, many of whom lack access to basic banking facilities, but can use umba’s smartphone app as use of the devices grows across the continent.

“Traditional banking doesn’t work in developing markets for a number of reasons. In Kenya, poor transport options, low average incomes and no bank in close proximity are all contributory factors to less than 40 per cent of the population having bank accounts,” Tiernan Kennedy.