Ambitious Woman Behind Multi-Billion Tala Loan App

  • Shivani Siroya, an Indian-American entrepreneur, is the brains behind the loan App Tala (initially InVenture) which operates in Kenya, Tanzania, the Philipines, India, and Mexico.

    The loan app was launched in the country in 2014 as Mkopo Rahisi, barely a year after it was first created.

    Tala’s smartphone app evaluates customers for credit using only the data on their devices and delivers loans customised for each and every individual in minutes.

    Shivani Siroya speaking on the TED show on April 25, 2016.

    According to her LinkedIn profile, Shivani had a stellar career before launching the app in 2013.

    She has served as an analyst for top Swedish lender Credit Suisse and also UBS Financial Services in the same region.

    She has also worked as an associate with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Citi Group, United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), and as a financial consultant with Health Net.

    Siroya was educated at the prestigious Wesleyan University before proceeding to the highly exclusive Columbia University to pursue a Masters Degree in Econometrics, Quantitative Economics and Health Economics.

    As of 2018, Tala is reported to have employed 215 staff spread across Santa Monica (US), Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Manila (Philippines), Mexico City, (Mexico) Mumbai and Bangalore (India).

    Its operations in the country are headed by Ivan Mbowa, a position that was formerly headed by Rose Muturi who has since left the firm.

    In July 2019, Forbes named Tala as one of the top 50 FinTech companies in the world and had its work has been highlighted by the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, TED, and TechCrunch, among others.

    Ivan Mbowa was appointed as the new regional head of Tala in June 2018.

    In August of the same year, Forbes estimated Tala's total worth to be Ksh80 billion, and had made an investment worth Ksh6.5 billion towards product development and further deepening its market reach in Kenya.

    Loan apps have revolutionized the lives of many Kenyans who have not been able to access funds in the formal banking system for one reason or the other.

    Reports from the World Bank in 2019 show that in Kenya, 35% of borrowing is for consumption, including ordinary household needs, airtime and personal or household goods, 37% for businesses and a paltry 7% borrow for emergency purposes.