Matt Flannery, the co-founder and ex-CEO of nonprofit microlending site Kiva.org, announced Wednesday that he has raised $1.4 million in seed funding for his latest social venture, a mobile-based microfinance firm serving smartphone users in Africa, The Wall Street Journal writes. Starting operations in Kenya, Branch International will work something like a cloud-based bank, extending credit in small amounts to Android users.
The downloadable Branch app analyzes social and financial data on a borrower's phone to determine creditworthiness before providing up to $20. Those with a "digital identity" too limited to establish credit standing can start off borrowing smaller amounts and climb a "trust ladder" to larger loans by timely repayment. Kiva.org, launched in 2005, facilitates more than a million dollars a week in small loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries by matching them with microlenders.