In-Purchase Financing Provider Behalf Raises Over $100M to Expand Buy Now, Pay Later Capability for B2B

NEW YORK and RA'ANANA, Israel, July 28, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Behalf, Inc., a provider of In–Purchase Financing solutions for B2B sellers and buyers, today announced $19 million in new venture financing. The round was led by existing investors MissionOG, Viola Growth, Viola Credit and Vintage Investment Partners. New investors Migdal Insurance and La Maison Partners are also participating in the round.

In addition, Behalf announced the creation of a new debt facility totaling up to $100 million, provided by funds managed by Ares Management Corporation ("Ares"). The capital raised will enable Behalf to expand the availability of In–Purchase Financing to a broader array of B2B merchants and their SMB customers, while continuing to extend the capabilities of its industry–leading platform.

"The B2B eCommerce market is ripe for transformation. Merchants are recognizing the opportunity to drive new revenue by deploying In–Purchase Financing," said Rob Rosenblatt, CEO of Behalf. "At the same time, small and mid–sized businesses (SMBs) need access to affordable financing options "" an evergreen challenge exacerbated during COVID. Even as the U.S. economy is improving, SMBs continue to seek financial assistance to purchase critical supplies, inventory and equipment. Oftentimes they lack the requisite spend capacity on their personal or business credit cards. By offering In–Purchase Financing with flexible terms, B2B merchants can increase average order size by as much as 50–80 percent while reducing their risk, improving cash flow and driving operational efficiencies."

Behalf's In–Purchase Financing solution provides B2B merchants with all the benefits of consumer–focused Buy Now, Pay Later offerings along with capabilities tailored specifically for business–to–business commerce including:

  • Seamless checkout that significantly improves the customer experience, drives same–session checkout, and enhances customer loyalty.
  • Easy integration with existing point–of–sale systems, avoiding disruptions that can otherwise impact real–time commerce.
  • Incorporation of advanced underwriting and scoring models based on expansive datasets, business history and other predictive metrics to address the added complexity and risk of SMB lending "" enabling Behalf to offer financing when traditional banks are unable to do so.
  • The ability to serve the needs of virtually all of the merchant's business customers "" small, medium and large.
  • Financing for transactions of significantly greater average order value vis–a–vis consumer financing offerings.
  • Sharing best practices with B2B merchants to enable them to provide different financing options to sell more product.

"We are pleased to invest in Behalf's current round," said Guy Fischer, Migdal's Deputy CEO and Chief Investment Officer. "This investment is made out of our $1.5 billion (USD) internal FinTech fund and is in line with our strategy of investing in FinTech companies that have robust growth potential. To support Behalf's growth, we are also in discussions with the company about a potential $100 million (USD) debt facility. This injection of capital should support a steep growth curve for the company."

"We think there is a great market opportunity for a B2B offering targeting the more complex, real–time financing needs of SMBs," said Jeffrey Kramer, Partner and Head of ABS in the Alternative Credit strategy of the Ares Credit Group. "We are excited to provide a debt facility that will help support the company to achieve its growth objectives."

About Behalf
Behalf offers alternative B2B financing solutions tailor–made for real–time commerce across e– tail, assisted–selling and other merchant sales channels. The solutions enable merchants to outsource their net terms and extended financing programs, and receive payment as early as next business day. With Behalf, merchants can significantly increase their business customers' spending power without tying up capital or devoting resources to the business of credit and collections. Customers can receive in–purchase financing from Net–30 to up to 180 days.

Behalf's e–commerce financing solution is offered by an array of merchants across the electronics, mobile phone resale, business supplies, medical and health, home/hardware and other merchant categories. To date, Behalf has on–boarded over 19,000 merchants and 95,000 business customers, and provided over $1 billion in financing. For more information, visit https://www.behalf.com/.

About Ares Management Corporation
Ares Management Corporation (NYSE: ARES) is a leading global alternative investment manager offering clients complementary primary and secondary investment solutions across the credit, private equity, real estate and infrastructure asset classes. We seek to provide flexible capital to support businesses and create value for our stakeholders and within our communities. By collaborating across our investment groups, we aim to generate consistent and attractive investment returns throughout market cycles. As of March 31, 2021, including the acquisition of Landmark Partners, which closed June 2, 2021, and the acquisition of Black Creek Group, which closed July 1, 2021, Ares Management's global platform had approximately $239 billion of assets under management with approximately 2,000 employees operating across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. For more information, please visit www.aresmgmt.com. Follow Ares on Twitter @Ares_Management.

About Ares Alternative Credit
Ares' Alternative Credit strategy focuses on direct lending and investing in assets that generate contractual cash flows and fills gaps in the capital markets between credit, private equity and real estate. Ares Alternative Credit targets investments across the capital structure in specialty finance, lender finance, loan portfolios, equipment leasing, structured products, net lease, cash flow streams (royalties, licensing, management fees), and other asset–focused investments. Co–Headed by Keith Ashton and Joel Holsinger, Ares Alternative Credit leverages a broadly skilled and cohesive team of approximately 40 investment professionals as of March 31, 2021.


To Prevent Teenage Pregnancies in Sub Saharan Africa, It Takes a Whole Village to Raise a Child

Honorine Meda became pregnant herself at the age of nineteen. Now she helps raise awareness of teenage pregnancy among girls in Dissin.

By Guy Dinmore
DISSIN, Burkina Faso, Jul 28 2021 – Honorine Meda is 23. Cycling through her hometown of Dissin, in Burkina Faso’s verdant southwest, she smiles, waves and stops to chat with one of the girls she counsels.

Thanks to a program by the German development agency (GIZ) and their Pro Enfant initiative, Honorine trained to counsel teenage girls in Dissin on how to avoid pregnancies.

She became pregnant herself, with her now three-year-old son, when she was 19. It was tough, she told IPS.

“I can say it was the hardest at the beginning, that’s when I had the most difficulties. I was ashamed and I spent one year without going to school after I gave birth,” she explains.

After the first year of her son’s life, she was able to return to her studies and now wants to become a midwife. Some 19.3% of pregnancies in Sub Saharan Africa are among adolescents. In Burkina Faso, it is 11%. Many teenagers who fall pregnant in the region, some as young as 13, are less fortunate than Honorine.

Teenage pregnancy often puts an end to the mother’s education, as young mothers switch their focus from school to taking care of the child. This reduces the mother’s earning potential and feeds into a cycle of poverty which means the child is also less likely to attend school and achieve financial stability years later.

Abortion is illegal in normal circumstances in Burkina Faso. It is permissible when rape or incest have occured, or if there is a danger to the health of the mother or severe fetal malformation. This is not well known among women, however, and the legal process for an abortion being approved is long and complicated. If a mother decides to terminate the pregnancy through an illegal abortion, their options for doing so are inherently unsafe.

Girls at a school on the outskirts of Dissin often learn in outdoor classrooms, Dissin.

A teenage girl sits in classroom at a school on the outskirts of Dissin.

“The lack of awareness [on how to prevent it] is the basis of pregnancy in school,” Honorine explains, sitting on a wooden bench beneath a mango tree. “Each year there are many cases.” That’s why she is proud to be doing work that means others might not suffer the same difficulties as she did.

While advocates like Honorine can play a big role in preventing teenage pregnancies it really involves the whole community, according to Abdoulaye Seogo, a social worker in Dissin who coordinates the GIZ program.

The child protection network in Dissin was trained by GIZ on how to coordinate around teenage motherhood, Dissin.

“With GIZ we organize awareness sessions, primarily for women. It must be said that in Africa, education begins with the mother at home. We also try to reach young boys.” He says he has noticed a fall in the number of teenage pregnancies since the program’s work to increase awareness.

A cluster of specially trained parents also play a part by acting as role models to other parents.

Yeledo Meda is one such model parent. “First there is moral support, we give advice and carry out activities to raise awareness,” he told IPS.

Yeledo Meda is one of the model parents who helps raise awareness of how to prevent teenage pregnancy. He also supports parents whose daughters are pregnant, Dissin.

But no matter how high the level of awareness in a community, it will never eliminate teenage pregnancies entirely.

“Often the parents are discouraged when they first find out their daughter is pregnant… When that happens, you have to moralize so that they understand. We also encourage the mother to return to school,” says Yeledo.

Mariam Nappon, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, is 16. She is seven months pregnant and makes use of many of the elements of the program put in place by GIZ to support pregnant mothers like her.

Sixteen-year-old Mariam Nappon, whose name has been changed, is seven months pregnant. She feels supported by the program GIZ have set up, Dissin.

Nappon says, “[The father] told me to keep the pregnancy, regardless of the problem… If I need anything and he can help me, he does. He also pays for my schooling.”

She says she has never felt any pressure to leave school, either from her family or from teachers. Teachers take special measures to make sure she has the provisions she needs thanks to sensitisation efforts by GIZ. In the past, expectant mothers like Nappon were regularly kicked out of school for becoming pregnant.

A teacher holds class at a coed school on the outskirts of Dissin.

“When I leave school, I want to become a tailor,” she says, “I often go to the child protection network to get advice.”

The child protection network is enlisted by Seogo, the social worker, when girls do become pregnant. The members of the network were also trained by GIZ and bring together community members from the police, education, the health sector, the local orphanage and even the agricultural sector.

Where agriculture is by far the largest sector of the economy, roles expectant mothers are no longer able to play in farming have to be accounted for. They also need to be kept away from certain pesticides that can be harmful to the unborn child.

“If the various parts of the community are isolated from each other, that’s not good for anyone. Take the police, for example… with the network, they know exactly what is happening and can ensure they fulfill their duties,” explains Honzié Meda who runs the network. He says coordination means all elements of the community involved are able to react more quickly and efficiently.

A boy looks at a mural to raise awareness of teenage pregnancy at a school on the outskirts of Dissin.

Joseph Tioye, the police officer for the network, agrees.

“We are there whenever we are called upon. Sometimes the boy doesn’t want to recognize the pregnancy and we have to speak to them about the legal implications of that.”

If the father, or his family, do not agree to help support the child, the case can end up in court. Also, when the pregnancy involves a father over 18 and a younger mother, this can cause the police to become involved.

But the emphasis is always on trying to make sure the mother stays in school, says Honzié Meda.

A girl prepares to play football at a school on the outskirts of Dissin.

“We can make sure her case is passed on to social workers, or health care, or for psycho-social care. If it’s needed, the support is there… There are even scholarships provided by GIZ which can be passed onto the mother if needed.”

Seogo explains: “Just this week, a fourteen-year-old girl who is pregnant couldn’t bring herself to tell her family. So, we accompanied her and advised.” The family will be supported by the child protection network throughout the pregnancy and beyond.

In southwest Burkina Faso, even before the GIZ program, the culture within the community was relatively sympathetic and supportive towards girls who become pregnant young, compared to other places in Burkina Faso.

Stigma can still be an issue however, and the mother regularly feels embarrassed. But, unlike in many other parts of the world, the culture in Dissin does not force teenagers to leave their family home if they become pregnant.

Although the GIZ program is making a big impact in Dissin, there is still much work to be done elsewhere. But if the program has proven anything, it’s that it takes a whole village to raise a child – whether a teenager or a newborn.

Another teenage girl who is pregnant walks through fields on the edge of her village, Dissin.

This feature was produced on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

 


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Golden Rice: Triumph for Science

By Paul Teng
SINGAPORE, Jul 28 2021 - After almost two decades, Golden Rice was approved last week by the Philippines authorities for use as food. This together with the approval of the bioengineered Bt eggplant represents a landmark [...] Read more »