Serena Williams from the United States celebrates in her first round match in women’s singles against Irina-Camelia Begu from Romania on the second day of the French Open 2021 in Roland Garros on December 31.
Stephane Cardinale | Corbis Sport | Getty Images
Serena Williams is investing an undisclosed amount in Esusu, a fintech start-up that enables tenants to build and improve loans by reporting their rental payments to credit bureaus.
The tennis superstar provided support through her venture capital company Serena Ventures as part of the start-up’s first financing round.
“I founded Serena Ventures to invest in a variety of early stage founders and companies that excel and make impact while empowering others and creating opportunity. Esusu is definitely one of those companies. ”Williams told CNBC. “Esusu is really focused on building credit and creating pathways of financial inclusion not just for working families but for individuals as well.”
The Series A funding round raised $ 10 million, led by Motley Fool Ventures, the personal finance website’s investing arm. Headquartered in New York City, Esusu has raised more than $ 14 million. Previous investors include Global Good Fund, Next Play Ventures and Zeal Capital.
“Esusu is a great example of an innovative fintech company using technology to deliver scalable and much-needed financial solutions to underserved populations,” said Ollen Douglass, Managing Director of Motley Fool Ventures. “Their inclusive loan-building offerings can provide low- to middle-income households across the country with access to credit.”
Esusu was founded by Abbey Wemimo and Samir Goel in 2018 when their immigrant families struggled to pay rent and build up loans after moving to the United States.
About 41 million families live in homes, according to the National Multi-Family Housing Council, and 45 million Americans have no creditworthiness, according to a 2020 report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Esusu uses its platform to collect rental payments and report them to the major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
“When my people moved here, our journey to make the American dream come true was just more difficult than it should have been,” Goel told CNBC. “I remember just watching my parents work miracles with no credit and limited financial resources. Abbey and I like to say we are inspired by our experiences.”
Esusu now works with 30% of the largest landlords on the National Multifamily Housing Council. His partners include Goldman Sachs, affiliates, Winn Residential, Camden Property Trust and Starwood Capital Group.
Wemimo and Goel say the new funds will be used to scale the business and increase cybersecurity.
“We exist in 2 million households in all 50 states. We want to increase that number to 5 million households within the next year, ”Wemimo told CNBC. “This Series A funding allows Esusu to double its growth through product innovation, top talent recruiting, and building the most comprehensive financial health platform in the market for low- to middle-income families.”
“This is really a huge market that has been underserved for a long time,” said Williams. “We have invested in Esusu’s mission and we firmly believe in the potential of this space. The technology-enabled model really creates a win-win situation for stakeholders, tenants and landlords. Our significant investment in Esusu will help the company scale and open up opportunities. “