5 tips on how to scale your business from Esusu co-founder Abbey Wemimo

BY Preta Peace Namasaba November 12, 2023 8:36 PM EDT
Abbey Wemimo. Photo credit: Obama Foundation

Esusu Financial is a company that provides rent reporting and data solutions for credit building to immigrant and minority groups. It was co-founded by Nigerian-born American Abbey Wemimo in 2018. The fintech company helps low-to-moderate income renters establish rotational savings clubs and use their rent payments to build credit. Valued at $1 billion, Esusu has reached unicorn status.

Here are 5 tips from Esusu founder Abbey Wemimo to help you scale your business.

Keep business operations simple
Wemimo grew up in the slums of Lagos, Nigeria with his mother and two sisters. They were unable to borrow money due to a lack of credit score when they moved to the United States. His family had to turn to predatory lenders and even sold off some of their belongings. This experience greatly inspired Wemimo to start Esusu. Not only does the company establish and build credit scores for its customers, but it also pays out zero-interest loans to the landlords of those who can’t afford them. The company has kept its business operations simple so as not to become like the big financial institutions that failed its founders.

“Personally, when I immigrated to the United States from Lagos, Nigeria, my mother and I didn’t have a financial identity or a credit score. We needed money, but we were turned away from the banks because we didn’t have a financial history. My mother pawned her wedding ring and borrowed money from a payday loan lender at over 400 percent interest rate. Inspired by these experiences, the ‘a-ha’ moment happened when we identified that the biggest barrier to entry in the financial system is not having a credit score. We knew that we wanted to leverage data to establish and boost credit profiles to unlock financial access for millions of Americans.”

Abbey Wemimo in Worth

Strategic partnerships are vital
Esusu’s business model is built on partnerships with a variety of stakeholders. The fintech partners with property owners, housing providers, and 35% of the largest landlords on the National Multifamily Housing Council (NHMC) list. It then captures on-time rental payment data and reports to the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian to strengthen their credit scores. Esusu also has strategic partnerships with Goldman Sachs, Related Companies, Starwood Capital Group and Winn Residential. These partnerships make business operations more efficient and are vital for funding to scale the company.

Accessibility is a valuable resource
The company uses automated reporting through its online platform which links the software used by property managers to the three national credit bureaus. In addition, rent reporting services are available to tenants in the properties Esusu works with. Through its Resident Portal, renters on the platform can see their credit score, credit score history and all available free resources.

Incentivization grows businesses
Esusu launched Renter’s Marketplace which offers educational tools and well products from partners. The marketplace has been expanded in collaboration with Sure to provide renters insurance to the tens of millions of Americans excluded from the financial system. The company has also partnered with Caribou to help eligible consumers refinance existing auto loans and Stable Home Fund which provides up to three months of rental assistance to eligible renters who’ve had an economic setback. In addition, Esusu has collaborated with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to make incentives and discounted pricing widely available.

Build from rejection
When Wemimo and his cofounder were raising capital for Esusu, 326 investors denied them funds. They were unable to afford a hotel room even after signing the first contract with the University of Minnesota due to accumulated credit card debt. They tried sleeping at a restaurant but were found dozing and got kicked out at four in the morning. Wemimo has persevered through all the rejections, beat the odds and built a billion-dollar company.

“A no is not necessarily a no. It’s a not now. And you have to go back to the drawing board, remold your idea, use it as an inspiration and say because you said no doesn’t mean that’s the final bus stop for me. I’m going to leverage that and do something special.”

Abbey Wemimo in Fortune