Hello! I’m excited to report some recent developments to you all. We are quickly gaining traction on all fronts and the company is growing faster than I had expected.
1. Tamer Fund: We entered a $25,000 seed grant competition at Columbia University and made it to the second round! Diana Yin, Benjamin Drachman, and I presented to MBA students in the Investing in Social Ventures course. We were assigned a team of students to do due diligence on us for 6 weeks, and we’ll know the final decision in November. If we win the grant, that’d be great so we can invest in our tech infrastructure — but even if we don’t, the 6 weeks of free consulting are a HUGE win. They will help us refine our sales pitch and raise many of the questions that investors ultimately will!
2. Demand: We have spent close to 0 dollars on marketing in Uganda, and yet we are overwhelmed with loan applications! My co-founder Titus told me that people are traveling from 50 km away to Soroti just to find us. Others wait outside Titus’s house night and day. Because there’s so much unmet demand, Titus actually invested some of his own money and our portfolio is now $13,000.
3. Uganda legal: My business partner Titus has hired a lawyer to register Asaak as a business and obtain a money lending license. He has worked with a microfinance institution before, and has worked with an international business as well. Getting a Ugandan lawyer on board will help us to enforce contracts with our borrowers, who have pledged collateral or who have guarantors, and also gives us a solid legal foundation.
4. Accelerators: Because of this traction, I’ve moved my timeline up and am hoping to start Asaak full-time in early 2017. To this end, I’m searching for a CTO, applying to a few accelerators, and planning for an angel investment round soon. An accelerator would give us the structure and time we need to build out our tech, refine our sales pitch, and get meetings with investors. We’re applying for programs at Y Combinator, Village Capital, and other places. Even if we don’t get into one, it’s not really a setback; we can keep growing our portfolio organically and then try again later with a stronger application.