Philippines: Accion, DeepBlue upsize First Circle’s seed fund to $2.5m

From left seated, are First Circle executives: CFO Tim Glynn, CEO Patrick Lynch, and CTO Tony Ennis. From left standing, are VP external relations Benedict Carandang, head of customer experience China Tanchanco, VP operations Vasyl Davydko, HR head Fleur Saguid, and product manager Brian McKiernan.

Global venture capital firms Accion Venture Lab and DeepBlue VC have led an investment round in Philippines-based online lending startup First Circle, taking the fintech company’s total seed funding to $2.5 million.

The startup first raised a seed round of $1.2 million in last October led by Dublin-and-London-based investor Key Capital.

Existing investors 500 StartupsIMJ Investment Partners, and Key Capital also confirmed their investments, along with an undisclosed sum of debt funding.

Founded in 2015, First Circle provides short-term working capital to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines, a sector that comprises 99 per cent of the businesses in the country. Most companies it supports do business online, and others are into export.

First Circle CEO Patrick Lynch said that they plan to use the latest funds to further develop First Circle’s technology and data analytics platform. This includes proprietary software and credit scoring to increase access to financial services for the underserved in the Philippines, and later expand access to credit in Southeast Asia.

In an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA, Lynch said that they expect to be lending in tens and millions of dollars to SMEs this year and probably raise a Series A round before 2017 ends.

“We basically raised these latest funds because Accion is the best investor in our space and we went into the process,” he said, noting First Circle will invest to improve its service locally before it considers reaching out to SMEs in other parts of Southeast Asia.

Accion Venture Lab managing director Vikas Raj said that with First Circle as a partner, they can advance access to capital for small businesses in the Philippines and beyond.

As part of global nonprofit group Accion, the Accion Venture Lab has deployed over $10 million across more than 25 startups in over 20 countries worldwide since its launch in 2012.

Lynch said that the SME market segment in the Philippines is so big that it will take some time before the company can reach a penetration rate.

Also Read:

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.