ShopUp: Online platform to appraise credit worthiness of small businesses for financial institutions

Bangladesh’s online market is thriving, with over 290,000 small businesses selling products on Facebook alone. But while the number of small businesses operating online is increasing, these businesses often do not have access to the capital needed to grow. This is largely because online transactions such as orders and payments may not necessarily be formalised, so businesses do not have the relevant documentation required to apply for loans.

Meanwhile, over 1,000 microfinance institutions are actively seeking businesses to fund, but cannot because many of those businesses lack verifiable transaction records.



Bangladesh startup Shopfront Limited initiated ShopUp in 2016 to bridge the information gap between online small businesses and microfinance institutions. The system utilises data from 25 different sources to appraise the credit eligibility of small businesses operating on Facebook.

ShopUp integrates with Facebook Messenger, and it enables sellers to automatically manage sales and keep track of growth trajectory, inventory cycle, and customer retention rate.

ShopUp also offers training programmes in areas such as starting an online shop, diversifying the range of products offered, community management, delivery, payment, promotion, choosing the right content and packaging, and shop management.




ShopUp uses an algorithm that appraises an entrepreneur’s working capital requirement based on analysis of business growth and social media profile.

When an online business gets involved with ShopUp and applies for loan through ShopUp e-loan platform, sales data and inventory cycle data is analysed.

For each loan application, the credit application platform gathers 25 data points from different business and social data sources. This is then run through a micro-loan model, which uses a credit algorithm to determine a ceiling for the final loan estimate. The loan applicant can then avail any loan amount below the ceiling.

After the final selection, the loan offer is forwarded to partner financial institutions along with the mobile wallet/bank account information of the applicant. The partner financial institutions disburses the loan directly to the borrower within 24 hours.


ShopUp’s comprehensive view of a small business’s growth, customer profiles, and business reviews received on social media, puts it in a unique position to assess the business’s track record and identify high-growth and low-risk ventures.

Additionally, because the evaluation of the business information is obtained online, the appraisal cost is significantly lower and more accurate than most traditional systems.

ShopUp charges microfinance institutions a flat fee of 6-8% on the cash advance disbursed to a merchant, much lower than the 18-20% appraisal costs they currently incur elsewhere.

The programme is facilitating financial inclusion by ensuring that no high-potential small business is limited by an information gap, complicated loan appraisal process, social favouritism, gender discrimination, or a lack of access to capital.

By the end of the project, ShopUp expects to disburse GBP 1M to 1,000+ women entrepreneurs.



Rapunzel's Secret is a successful beauty supply store owned by Sazia Hassan Izu in Dhaka.

Inspired by her grandmother, Sazia began producing oil at home and selling it online through a Facebook page in 2012.

Though Sazia wanted to expand her business, she had neither the resources, nor a concrete plan for launching her products. This included a lack of proper promotion and packaging systems, a BSTI license, delivery options, and a customer base. She sold her products to a limited number of people whom she could reach solely through her Facebook profile.


Sazia learnt about ShopUp from a trade fair in 2015 and registered with them the following year. Her involvement enabled her to receive assistance with retail record-keeping, ‘customer reminders’, and increasing her opportunities to access formal financial services.

Sazia’s association with ShopUp leveraged her knowledge of marketing and helped her use the business’s previous sales and inventory cycle data to prepare a cash advance that factored in considerations for her working capital requirements and repayment capacity.

In January 2018, she received a loan of BDT 150,000 using the ShopUp platform, which enabled her to design packages and promote her products better.

With the loan and ShopUp’s assistance, Sazia acquired a BSTI license for her products and the trade license for her business. Consequently, Sazia’s sales increased, and she now has a monthly income of approximately BDT 500,000.

Though ShopUp opened up many opportunities for Sazia, she has faced a constraint with the platform: ShopUp currently does not deliver products outside Dhaka. Sazia’s business expanded and her promotional activities improved to the point she now has a customer base beyond the capital city, so she is using Sundarban Paribahan to reach these customers. The benefits for Sazia outweigh the limitations though, and she will continue to use ShopUp.

Sazia has attended two ShopUp training programmes, during which she shared her experiences with other participants. In the coming year, she plans to expand her business further and build a factory.

The inspiring story of how Izu used Facebook to set up a flourishing business in Bangladesh.



The Business Finance for the Poor in Bangladesh has co-invested in ShopUp as a part of their Challenge Fund component. The Business Finance for the Poor in Bangladesh project is a £25m strategic partnership between the UK and Bangladesh governments to boost access to financial services for small businesses.