In France, as across Europe, the self-employed (often known as freelancers or independent workers) represent a rapidly growing segment of the active working population. The self-employed are found within all market sectors, and numerous industries are gradually opening up to this alternative to traditional employment models. With numbers in France in 2020 reaching close to 4 million individuals, or 12 percent of the working population, the time was right for a brilliant founding team to take on the challenge of reinventing the way this growing segment accesses finance.

Mansa is disrupting the way freelancers access financing options.

In a market dominated by a handful of well-known traditional participants, the access to financing options for self-employed is still mind-blowingly antiquated.

The main bank-owned lenders that dominate the French market have, for the most part, a freelancer category that is a repackaged version of their consumer finance, which completely omits to address the specific needs of freelancers. Having gone through the experience ourselves, we know it to be slow and manual, and how irritating it is to be treated as a subprime profile requesting a consumer loan. Traditional banks, on the other hand, have built a reputation for themselves as being averse to backing the self-employed, as well as the entire TPE (‘tres petite entreprises’) segment. Meanwhile, the value proposition of the emerging SME banking players is a revolution for SMEs and TPEs that need to access a better banking experience. However, lending to freelancers has yet to surface as a business stream.

Meet Mansa

Mansa is a Paris-based startup founded in 2019. The company is focusing first on targeting French freelancers, with a customer-centric product that streamlines and facilitates the loan process for applications ranging from €1,000 to €10,000. Leveraging open banking and access to a borrower’s historical transaction data, the team has built a fully automated loan decision engine that considerably speeds up the end-to-end application to issuance process. This enables a more comprehensive and robust approach to building credit decision models too. Currently, Mansa offers loans to freelancers who need cash flow-smoothing, cash advances or as an investment in their activity.

At Anthemis, we see this opportunity going well beyond the existing lending offering to freelancers, and Mansa becoming a finance partner of reference to the self-employed market segment.

Ali, Benjamin and Rémy form the impressive founding trio behind Mansa. With only just over a year of trading history under their belts, they’ve proven to be smart, visionary and great at executing, as well as resilient and hyper pro-active despite having to operate in the midst of a pandemic. We are excited to be partnering with them alongside others including Founders Future and angel investors. Onwards!