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SME Credit Lending: Interview with Ron Benegbi, CEO of Uplinq

SME Credit Lending

Uplinq offers a global credit assessment and credit lending platform for SME lenders. The technology leverages historical data sets to provide accurate regulatory and compliance assessments while providing needed loans for SMEs. The CEO Ron Benegbi will be sharing more details with us in this interview with TechBullion.

Please tell us your name and a little bit about yourself?

My name is Ron Benegbi. I’m a serial entrepreneur and Uplinq is my 5th, and as I’ve been told (by my wife), the last startup.

What is Uplinq and what unique services do you provide?

Uplinq is the first, global credit assessment platform for small business lenders. We had the good fortune of acquiring a mature technology, which had already been successfully deployed in the market for 15 years. We have now repurposed that it into a modern-day fintech.

With this platform, we are able to empower small business lenders to gain highly accurate and predictive insights on all SMBs in their portfolio, while still making the final decision themselves based on their own risk criteria.

The Uplinq platform leverages 15 years of historical and current data sets on small business risk signals that have powered over $1.4 Trillion USD in underwritten loans. All of our data is scientifically validated and regulatory compliant. In total we are leveraging billions of data sets in 150+ countries…there is no other platform like this in the market today.

What is the origin story?

As an immigrant to Canada in the 1970s, I watched my parents struggle to make a living as small business owners. We were very fortunate as one bank manager took a ‘flyer’ on my dad when he applied for a loan, even though he made it clear that the application did not meet the bank’s lending criteria. Most small business owners are not nearly as fortunate.

I was a co-founder of and through this experience, as well as my own personal one, I realized that traditional data sources like accounting, banking, and credit scores do not provide sufficient and accurate insights into the financial performance and creditworthiness of the post-Covid SMB.

 It dawned on me that more was needed to be done to help the small business owner, so this is why I started Uplinq. We are able to provide lenders with the confidence they need to approve more loans through scientifically validated and regulatory compliant data. We are going to turn many no’s into yes’!

Since the pandemic began, it seems credit has even become more needed. How big is this market and what is the level of demand among SMEs?

The World Bank refers to the SMB market as the ‘missing middle’ on account of the lack of funding it receives. Since the onset of COVID, this problem has only worsened and now needs to be addressed. The current market size is estimated at $27 Trillion USD/year in small business funding, with the actual opportunity to increase this number being substantially higher.

Could you give us a walkthrough of your financial solutions for the Unbanked, Minority, and Immigrant SME?

The data most often used to evaluate and prioritize customers is based on long histories and formal processes. Uplinq’s AI-driven methodology makes full use of these sources but is not dependent on them.

Most underserved and unbanked businesses do not have sufficient information to qualify for traditional credit. Uplinq leverages millions, and sometimes billions of data points, to present context on each individual business.

By drawing data from many sources, we can predict opportunities, challenges, as well as the interest of each prospect. The system easily fills in when something is missing. In turn, this approach is critical when reaching the underserved.

Do you feel the SME market remains underserved, and how can Fintech help?

I do, but thankfully over the last few years, there has been an explosion of new Fintech companies entering the small business space. Some of these companies provide solutions tailored directly to SMB owners while others, like Uplinq, are providing solutions for lenders, which empower them to better serve their customer base.

What are you currently working on at Uplinq and what’s next on your roadmap? 

I’m really looking forward to running successful pilots, onboarding several of our waitlist customers, and continuing to evolve our product. There has been so much market excitement about Uplinq and like most startups, we are trying to be as scrappy as possible while delivering the best product we can for our customers.

Are there any available opportunities for investors with your company?

We have been extremely fortunate to have the backing of some wonderful investors. We recently closed off on a Pre-Seed extension round, which has us well-positioned for a meaningful Seed round in the near future.

What advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

I think the most important message I could impart would be that life loves to throw you challenges, but through it all, it’s essential to maintain your integrity and dignity, as well as respect for others.

Do you have any additional information you’d like to share with our readers?

I’ll summarize by saying that we are a purpose-led company, with a mission of helping lenders achieve financial inclusion for all of their small business customers.

Everything we do as entrepreneurs, and as people, ties back to this purpose and I truly believe we will be impacting the lives of millions of families globally.

If you really believe in your purpose this becomes the foundation for all great things to come.

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