Helicap, a Singapore-based financial technology (fintech) startup, has raised $5 million in its pre-Series A funding round co-led by early-stage venture fund East Ventures and Singapore real estate conglomerate Soilbuild Group Holdings.
The latest funding comes four months after the startup, which provides an alternative-lending platform, raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Teo Ser Luck, Singapore’s former Minister of State for Manpower, and from Nufin Data.
In a statement, Helicap said, the fresh funds will be used to grow its core team and expand its market reach to Indonesia and to also “build and enhance” its alternative lending services.
First established in Singapore, Helicap said, it provides alternative lending platform that seeks to fill the credit gaps faced by consumers and corporates who have been conventionally underserved by traditional financial institutions.
A World Bank report cited by the startup showed that up to 73 per cent of Southeast Asia’s 630 million population do not possess a bank account.
“Southeast Asia is among one of the world’s fastest-growing economic regions and has been primarily driven by SMEs. However, this growth has also generated a fragmented lending ecosystem which hasn’t been able to cater to the growing borrowers seeking capital to start a business,” said David Z. Wang, co-founder and CEO of Helicap.
Since last year, Helicap said, it has rolled out its services in Southeast Asia and Australia, which have a combined total of over 2.9 billion SMEs. A McKinsey report said these SMEs are currently facing a credit gap of $187.2 billion.
“In addition to financial returns, Helicap’s platform enables individuals to help thousands of consumers and small businesses in Southeast Asia gain better access to funding,” the company said.
Over the past year, it has started investing and is now screening around $200 million worth of qualified loans for business owners and individuals in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Indonesia and Cambodia within its pipeline, which will be distributed in the coming months.
Helicap said it will continue to raise more capital in the next 12 months and expects its curated pipeline to grow towards $200 million by the end of 2018.
“Given the attractive returns, Helicap is also working with fund managers and family offices, and expects to raise more capital in the next 12 months, which will be directly deployed into more originators every month,” according to the company announcement.
Commenting on the investment, Willson Cuaca, Managing Partner of East Ventures, expressed optimism that Helicap will be able to play a significant role in validating and consolidating Southeast Asia’s emerging alternative lending space.