Salutat, a Singapore-based startup, announced that it has closed seed round from 500 Startups, Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), and Expara Ventures. Salutat’s mission is to help microfinance institutions (MFIs) better serve entrepreneurs in developing countries.

Salutat ws founded by Co-founder and CEO, Mike Driver, who was a former IFC banker, with Co-founder and CTO Sam Upra, who was Agoda developer. It is a graduate of Startupbootcamp.

The duo then teamed up with renowned psychologists from top universities University of New South Wales (UNSW) and National University of Singapore (NUS) to conduct a research effort of almost 1,000 low-income borrowers in Asia and Africa to understand their financial, business, and digital needs.

“Traditional lenders are under strain to deliver better service across more and more channels, despite their staff managing as many as 500 customers each. Salutat allows traditional lenders to fight off fintech lenders which are enticing customers away with better UX but often extremely high pricing,” said Driver.

Salutat is using AI-powered virtual customer relationship management software that automates and enhances digital customer conversations using neuroscience and machine-learning techniques.

It also leverages real-time data analytics to mitigate operational risks, helps reducing staff communication time and costs, and drives superior customer repayment, sales, retention, and financial inclusion.

Salutat said it’s levelling the playing field for the bricks and mortars lenders. Salutat helps its emerging market financial institution partners to improve lending to underserved entrepreneurs, especially women, by boosting customer engagement through over-the-top (OTT) communication channels (e.g., Whatsapp, LINE), providing better access to lower-interest loans and delivering financial literacy training to borrowers.

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By doing so, Salutat’s expected social impact is to increase income for women and men, reduce levels of poverty, and increase health, and wellbeing for underserved micro-entrepreneurs.

Salutat has recently added pilots in Myanmar, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. It is also in discussions for partnerships in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.