Jia CEO Zach Marks: Bridging Africa’s MSMEs financing gap with DeFi lending

Jia CEO Zach Marks: Bridging Africa’s MSMEs financing gap with DeFi lending
Image credit: Jia | Design by Ifeoluwa Awowoye

Marks’ experience working on expanding financial access in emerging markets enables Jia to support small businesses in Africa. 

Access to credit facilities for African micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) has been a well-documented challenge. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates an annual funding gap of $416 billion on the continent.

Zach Marks, a former English teacher in India, Ethiopia, and Brazil, witnessed the struggles faced by MSMEs in obtaining financing. This realization inspired Marks to co-found Jia, a DeFi lending platform catering to emerging-market small businesses. Jia recently raised $4.3 million in seed funding.

Before Jia, Marks gained experience at Tala, a fintech startup providing financial services to the unbanked through a consumer credit app. Recognizing Tala’s success in serving underserved MSMEs, Marks shifted his focus to MSME financing and founded Jia.

In a recent interview with Mariblock, Marks shared his vision of bridging the credit gap for African MSMEs. Jia aims to revolutionize MSME financing in emerging markets, offering opportunities for growth and prosperity.

“What led me to start Jia was the idea of providing more access to fair, flexible financing in a way that I think hasn’t been done yet… The two main ways we do it at Jia is one, we use blockchain as means of representing ownership and so we provide our borrowers with token rewards. … And two, we use it as a capital aggregation method, so unlocking investment opportunities to folks around the globe so they can invest in emerging markets, lending and lowering the cost of capital for these small businesses,” said Marks.