How to get a loan in one minute using only your cell phone

Are you ready? Pull out your phone, go to your app store, and search: Tala…

[one minute later]

Congrats! You qualify for up to 10,000 KSh! Can you believe it?

Believe it! This app actually exists…in Kenya. I know, I know, not everyone who reads this blog lives in Kenya. So, for those of you who don’t live in Kenya and aren’t off spending the money that just landed in your mobile account, let me tell you what will be coming your way soon.

The Tala app is an android application that gives you a credit score in just 20 seconds using only the information on your phone and your answers to 8 questions. If you qualify for one of their loans, you can have money in your mobile account in just, that’s right, ONE MINUTE. Insane, right?

Ever since I heard about this company, I can’t stop talking about it. I first heard about Tala while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Jason Calacanis’s This Week in Startups. During the episode, Jason interviewed the founder of Tala, Shivani Siroya, and he asked her why people like angel investor Chris Sacca are so excited about Tala that they would agree to sit on the board, which he never does…

She responded with… “[I think it’s because] the problem that we are tackling, it’s massive! There are 3 billion people around the world that are currently underserved by financial services.” That’s 3 billion people who don’t have a bank account or who don’t have access to formal credit options like traditional loan products, small business loans, or insurance products. So, the market opportunity is huge.

Ok, so now you see why an investor would be interested in Tala, but why should you care? Because think about the impact this could have on opening financial access in countries across the world! I think about my friends back in Benin. Take my friend Hervé for example… Hervé lives in the town of Adjarra. He is a tremendously hard worker. When Hervé was younger he graduated first in his class, but couldn’t afford to go to college. Still, he managed to get into the construction business and soon had his very own hardware shop. For 5 years, Hervé has been ready to open up a second shop, but he can’t get a loan!

Hervé’s problem is unfortunately a reality many entrepreneurs face in West Africa, and in many places around the world. And that’s why Tala is so exciting, because it helps successful people at the bottom grow. It addresses the problem at its root and it’s seeing some incredible results― repayment rates of more than 90% for first-time borrowers and 95% for customers who return for a second loan. (Don’t believe me? Hear it from the CEO herself here.) That’s BETTER than repayment rates regular loan companies are seeing here in America!  To put that in perspective, Tala is not meeting borrowers in person or even picking up the phone, whereas American loan companies are meeting borrowers in-person and doing sophisticated background check, and they are still seeing these repayment rates.

With 40% of their new borrowers coming from referrals, Tala is taking off and soon expanding to India, Mexico, Nigeria, Zambia, and more. In an era of trickle down, Tala screams trickle up, and as Alicia Garza says, it’s creating an effervescence, a bubbling up. Recently completing over 22 million in loans in just 11 months, the impact that Tala is already changing the world.  

Tala believes that everyone deserves control over their financial lives and power over their futures…do you?

Dave Emnett is former National Coordinator of Dare to Innovate Benin and now Chief Financial Officer at Dare to Innovate Global. He believes in a deeper sense of humanity, a human closeness, a sameness that transcends all board and differences― through which lives human relationships that compel us to help one another, to create social enterprises. Oh, and he also loves to sing in the shower! Follow Dave on Linkedin or @daveemnett on Twitter.