Today, Zirtue, the world’s first and only relationship-based lending app with a mission to drive financial inclusion, announces it has received a significant investment from Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, Northwestern Mutual’s corporate venture capital fund.

The investment is an addition to Zirtue’s seed round, bringing the total the company has raised to $4 million. Funds raised will be used to grow the team and add product offerings.

Through its investment, Northwestern Mutual is furthering its commitment to accelerating financial technology startups that are focused on historically underbanked and underfunded populations, as well as investing in Black founded companies.

Zirtue Co-founder and CEO, Dennis Cail, built the relationship-based lending app to solve a problem he experienced first-hand growing up. Traditional banks often are not located in certain neighborhoods, leaving many people vulnerable to predatory payday lenders and check cashing services. These experiences led Dennis to create a loan option for unbanked and underbanked individuals to provide them with necessary loans and empowered them through the process.

“Friends and family are among the largest banks in the world, loaning $184 Billion annually to loved ones,” says Call. “Loaning money can damage relationships, and Zirtue is the modern day solution by providing a seamless, structured way for people to be paid back, while taking the awkwardness out of those conversations and transactions. By investing in the problem we are trying to solve, Northwestern Mutual is demonstrating their commitment to financial inclusion, and given their 160+-year old standing in the financial industry, we are honored to partner with them.”

According to a recent survey, one in three people in the U.S. will borrow money from a person they know, with the average loan amount being $3,300. Since 2019, Zirtue has facilitated more than $10 million in loans on its platform.

“Zirtue is leveraging technology to provide a unique offering and tapping into a market that is often underserved in the financial services industry,” said Craig Schedler, managing director, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures. “Zirtue aligns with Northwestern Mutual’s commitment to providing financial inclusion and their recent growth demonstrates the unmet need for this type of lending platform. We look forward to partnering with Zirtue and continuing to advance and grow the company.”