Tala, an emerging markets digital lender that offers loans between $10 to $500 to consumers and small business owners, has raised $145 million in Series E funding.
Upstart, a company founded by ex-Googlers Dave Girouard, Anna Counselman and Paul Gu, led the round. The Stellar Development Foundation’s Enterprise Fund participated, alongside new investors Kindred Ventures and the J. Safra Group.
Existing investors IVP, Revolution Growth and Lowercase Capital also joined the round that brings Tala’s total funding raised to a little over $360 million. The new investment values Tala north of $800 million, according to a source close to the company.
However, unlike the last financing round where Tala raised $100 million debt financing in addition to its $110 million Series D, the microlender only raised equity this time.
In 2011, Shivani Siroya founded Tala after leaving her job as an investment banking analyst. The idea came while engaging in some research for the United Nations Population Fund. She discovered that many people she talked to in emerging markets were creditworthy but lacked immediate access to credit and quick loans.
To add to that, over 2 billion of these people have limited access to financial services and working capital per World Bank statistics.
Carefully studying the issues causing this problem, Siroya concluded that the financial system in these markets was essentially not designed to meet the needs of the underserved segment. And Tala could change that; and so far, it has (to an extent).
“I do think that, across all of our markets, we’re really seeing that many fintechs are coming in and seeing the same opportunity. But again, when you think about the design of those platforms and products, there is nobody really that has the global breath that Tala has for underserved segment across our four markets,” the CEO said.
With its new capital, Tala plans to also grow its team across the four markets it serves and the U.S., where it is headquartered. The company says it will also pull forward plans for geographic expansion, though it kept numb on what markets they could be.