Serena Williams of the United States celebrates a set point in her women’s singles first round match against Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania on the second day of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on May 31, 2021 in Paris, France.
Stephane Cardinale | Corbis Sport | fake images
Serena Williams is investing an undisclosed amount in Esusu, a financial technology company that allows tenants to build and improve their credit by reporting their rent payments to credit bureaus.
The tennis superstar provided the backing through her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, as part of the startup’s first round of funding.
“I started Serena Ventures to invest in diverse founders and early stage companies that outperform and create impact, while at the same time empowering others and creating opportunity. Esusu is definitely one of those companies. ” Williams told CNBC. “Esusu is really focused on creating credit and creating pathways to financial inclusion not only for working families but also for individuals.”
The Series A funding round raised $ 10 million led by Motley Fool Ventures, the investment arm of the personal finance site. Esusu, based in New York City, has raised more than $ 14 million. Previous investors include Global Good Fund, Next Play Ventures, and Zeal Capital.
“Esusu is a prime example of an innovative fintech company leveraging technology to deliver much-needed and scalable financial solutions to underserved populations,” Motley Fool Ventures Managing Director Ollen Douglass said in a statement. “Their inclusive credit-building offerings can unlock access to credit for low- to middle-income households across the country.”
Esusu was founded in 2018 by Abbey Wemimo and Samir Goel, who saw their immigrant families struggle to pay rent and build credit after moving to the United States.
Roughly 41 million families live in apartments, according to the National Multi-Family Housing Council, and 45 million Americans have no credit score, according to a 2020 report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Esusu uses its platform to record and report rental payments to the largest credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
“When my parents moved here, our journey to chase the American dream was more difficult than it should have been,” Goel told CNBC. “I remember seeing my parents perform miracles without credit and with limited financial resources. Abbey and I like to say that our experiences inspire us. “
Esusu now works with 30% of the largest homeowners in the National Multi-Family Housing Council. Its partners include Goldman Sachs, Related Companies, Winn Residential, Camden Property Trust and Starwood Capital Group.
Wemimo and Goel say the new funding will be used to scale the business and increase cybersecurity.
“We exist in 2 million homes in all 50 states. We want to grow that to cover 5 million homes over the next year, “Wemimo told CNBC. “This Series A financing enables Esusu to double its growth through product innovation, hiring top talent and building the most comprehensive financial health platform on the market for low- to middle-income families.”
“This is really a massive market that has been neglected for a long time,” Williams said. “We invested in Esusu’s mission and we have a strong belief 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 unlock opportunities. “