Ventures Africa writer David Adeleke gives his analysis on one…
Founded in 2015 by blockchain enthusiasts Daniel Bloch and Emmanuel Noah, two motivated innovators dedicated to improving Government technology in Ghana. The Ghanaian based Fintech start-up is transforming property ownership in Sub-Saharan Africa by placing property records onto the Blockchain. They’ve recently secured a place on the prestigious incubator programme Cambridge Social Ventures.
Emmanuel Noah is a speaker at the Tech in Ghana Conference London
Describe your startup in a sentence
BenBen provides fast, digital access to Blockchain secured land transactions for Governments, citizens, and financial institutions.
What problem are you aiming to solve?
Throughout the developing world, land records are stored in paper and over time these paper records become lost, destroyed, and inconsistent among stakeholders. Therefore, a high degree of fraud is able to occur as people sell land that is not theirs and illegal repossess land. Due to this lack of trust, financial institutions are unable to lend and citizens cannot collateralise their properties. BenBen is a platform that digitally secures land records on the Blockchain database and allows citizens to prove land ownership and securely facilitate transactions such as home loans.
How does the business work?
BenBen is a web and mobile application that allows users to manage their land records and perform land transactions. Users can access BenBen’s interactive maps to search land information before buying or selling. Furthermore, users can interact with financial institutions by applying for loans through the platform to get access to funding, which is a process that currently takes up to two years. With BenBen it takes two weeks!
Tell us a bit about your team
We [Daniel Bloch and Emmanuel Noah] met while studying together at the University of Michigan. Daniel is from the US and previously operated Blockchain focused educational programs at Universities. Noah hails from Ghana and previously spent time working at the Ghana Lands Commission to get insight on their issues and opportunities to innovate. Developers, Daniel Nortey and Eugene Badzongoly are from Ghana having previously built many banking solutions used throughout the continent. Head of Business Development and Strategy Phillip Jarman is from the UK and possesses deep experience in the financial sector working at UBS.
How did your startup get started?
[Co-founders] Daniel and Noah began working together through Daniel’s University non-profit based at the University of Michigan, which hosted events and supported events at other Universities. We began working with a University in Ghana and saw the many opportunities for Blockchain here. At the end of 2015, we were rewarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to further our efforts. After a series of pivots based on the market feedback, we developed our product.
How has the company been funded so far?
We secured a $100k grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Techstars invested $20k, which we have utilised to the max! And we secured Barclays Ghana as our first banking who paid us to access the platform. We are now focused on securing more banking clients.
What’s the next move – are you seeking more investment?
We are currently seeking £150k as part of a Seed Round that will take us into our Series A by June 2017. We were also offered a place on a hugely prestigious incubator programme Cambridge Social Ventures, that is sponsored by Cambridge University, which started in January 2017.
How successful is the business now, and what are your plans for future growth?
We are currently in talks with a number of Ghanaian banks who offer mortgages and are also talking with a number of Nigerian financial institutions. 2017 represents a huge year for us as we consolidate our core market and expand into others.
Finish this sentence. In 2020, Africa will be…
Showing the world how to utilise a distributed ledger database to manage property records and banishing corruption from this process. This will have a positive impact on banks’ ability to offer mortgage products, the public’s ability to secure legal title and the government’s ability to affectively secure taxation from property transactions.
Emmanuel Noah is a speaker at the Tech in Ghana Conference London. The event is sponsored by Vodafone Business Solutions and WorldRemit, and will be held on Monday 27th February. See more speakers more here