NEW York Stock Exchange-listed shipping line Zim has invested in international trade fintech startup 40Seas.

The tech company raised US$111 million to deliver its financing framework for small and medium-sized companies involved in global commerce.

The company’s US$11-million seed funding round, led by Team8 with participation from Zim Integrated, was complemented by a US$100-million credit facility for exporters and importers.

The fintech startup was built in conjunction with Team8’s Fintech Foundry. The company said SMEs account for 43% of cross-border trade volume, according to the OECD. However, SMEs are seven times more likely to be denied access to trade financing than multinational companies – according to the World Trade Organization.

40Seas says it uses AI and data-driven technology to offer flexible payment options. This, the company said would extend the accessibility of working capital for SME importers, exporters, freight forwarders and sourcing agencies.

Since going live with a soft launch in October 2022, 40Seas said it has already financed transactions for dozens of SMEs and is slated to finance tens of millions of dollars in the coming months.

Zim has extended 40Seas a three-year, account receivables based, senior secured, revolving credit facility of approximately US$100 million, with an option to extend it to US$200 million.

To better serve customers in its ecosystem and generate new revenue streams, Zim said it would embed 40Seas into the freight forwarding services offered by Ship4wd, its digital freight forwarding subsidiary, targeting the SME market.

40Seas co-founder and CEO Eyal Moldovan said SMEs need easy access to financing to have the best chance of survival.

“40Seas wants to drive a sea change in how companies access finance, with a unique solution that makes life easier for importers and exporters, serving both directions of a cross-border trade,” he said.

Zim CEO Eli Glickman said with its investment in 40Seas, Zim aims to advance disruptive technologies to promote digital innovation in the shipping industry,while developing additional streams of revenue that complement our core shipping business.

:We are thrilled to partner with Team8, one of Israel’s leading and most innovative venture groups, on this ground-breaking initiative, which we will also soon offer to our customers worldwide, initially via our digital freight forwarder, Ship4wd,” he said.

“Importantly, with this strategic cooperation, 40Seas will be able to leverage Zim’s in-depth knowledge of cross-border trade and our close relationship with the market and global SME customers to bring this advanced, much-needed digital financing solution to the market.”