Zort, Investree team up to help SMEs access funding
Zort, a seller management platform, has partnered with crowdfunding portal Investree to provide access to funding for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by leveraging their sales and business data.
"This partnership will help our online merchants gain access to capital and ease their pain points while strengthening Zort's ecosystem," said Thanatphan Thanasetsakul, chief business officer of Zort.
Zort's merchants will have their sales data analysed with their consent, he said. Most of the vendors engage various sales platforms.
"This is the first time data from multiple sales channels for each merchant is leveraged as credit scoring, unlike e-marketplaces offering loans by only using the sales data of users on their platforms," said Mr Thanatphan.
Crowdfunding makes sense for its SME merchants because it does not require collateral, while merchants leverage their online sales data as credentials when applying for funding that each merchant can apply up to 5 million baht loan, he said.
"We surveyed our merchants and found that despite their online sales growth, they still cannot prove their credit worthiness to banks," said Mr Thanatphan.
"These merchants want more funds during double-day mega sales to order more products during the peak seasons."
A merchant has an average of two sales channels at present, but this is expected to increase to 4-5 in the future.
According to Mr Thanatphan, the Office of SMEs Promotion found that more than 80% of SMEs have difficulty in getting bank loans due to a variety of reasons, such as a lack of collateral or due to the number of years they have been in business.
Through the partnership with Investree, interested investors can consider providing a short-term loan for merchants.
Zort aims to have 5-10% of its merchants use this service.
"We gain a small fee share from Investree as our goal is to boost merchants' retention," he said.
Investree chief executive Natsuda Bhukkanasut pointed out that SMEs are an integral part of the country's economy, contributing 35% of GDP and accounting for 72% of employment.
"There is a structural SME funding gap in Thailand and in many other countries. One way that we can help close this gap is to use SMEs' verifiable digital footprint as an alternative factor when assessing their credit risk," she said.
"Other ways to improve their access to funding is to make sure the application process is easy, fast and transparent, which is what we are doing at Investree."
Ms Natsuda said Investree has helped the country's SMEs raise more than 800 million baht via its platform.