Tennis star, Serena Williams has invested an undisclosed sum in U.S-based Fintech firm, Esusu Financial‘s Series A round.
The funding round raised $10 million led by Motley Fool Ventures, a $150 million tech-focused venture capital fund. The tennis superstar provided the backing through her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, as part of the funding round.
This investment comes less than a year after Esusu raised $2.3 million in seed extension and an earlier $1.6 million in a seed round led by Acumen in 2019. With this round, the rent reporting startup has now raised more than $14 million from VCs.
Speaking on the investment, Williams revealed that she is backing Esusu because it was empowering others and creating opportunities.
“I started Serena Ventures to invest in diverse founders and early-stage companies that outperform and generate impact, while at the same time empowering others and creating opportunities. Esusu is definitely one of those companies,” Williams said.
Creating pathways for financial inclusion
Founded in 2018 by Samir Goel and Nigerian-born Abbey Wemimo, Esusu is a fintech start-up that allows renters to build and improve credit by reporting their rent payments to credit bureaus.
According to Goel, the idea for the company was inspired by personal experiences as an immigrant who started with no credit and limited financial resources.
“When my folks moved here, our journey to pursue the American dream was just harder than it should have been. I remember just watching my parents work miracles with no credit and limited financial resources. Abbey and I like to say we are inspired by our experiences,” Goel said.
“Approximately 41 million families live in apartments, according to the National Multi-Family Housing Council, and 45 million Americans do not have a credit score, according to a 2020 report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Motley Fool Ventures’ Managing Director, Ollen Douglass also believes in the company’s potential. According to him “Esusu is an excellent example of an innovative fintech company leveraging technology to deliver scalable and much-needed financial solutions for the underserved population.”
He added that its inclusive credit building offerings can unlock access to credit for low-to-medium income households across the US.
Over 2 million households
Esusu now exists in about 2 million households and works with 30% of the biggest landlords on the National Multifamily Housing Council across all 50 states in the US. This is up from over 200,000 rental units it covered in over 30 states last year.
Some of its partners include Goldman Sachs, Related Companies, Winn Residential, Camden Property Trust and Starwood Capital Group.
Wemimo told CNBC that the latest influx of cash will be used to scale the business through product improvement, top talent recruitment and increased cybersecurity.
“This Series A financing enables Esusu to double down on growth through product innovation, top talent recruitment, and building the most comprehensive financial health platform in the market for low-to-medium-income families,” he said.
He also revealed that the goal is to cover 5 million households within the next year.
Serena Williams’ investment in Esusu doesn’t come as a surprise. the co-founders of the company had earlier revealed that to advocate for equality, they were looking at extraordinary Black and women-led venture capital firms.
Armed with a larger cash flow, the company is poised to transform its product offering from just granting access through credit to helping lots of Americans build wealth.