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The women for women FinTech startup and credit solutions platform Oraan has successfully raised $3M in its latest funding round. The round was co-led by returning investor Zayn Capital and Wavemaker Partners, with participation from Resolution Ventures, i2i Ventures, Hustle Fund, Haitou Global, Plug and Play and angels like Claire Diaz-Ortiz, a former investing partner at Magma Partners and early Twitter employee.
Founded in 2018, by Halima Iqbal and Farwah Tapal both returning from overseas to set up ingenious financing solutions for women in unbanked communities across Pakistan, pushing forth financial inclusion using Tech to disrupt a traditional financing model. Oraan is disrupting ROSCAs (rotating credit and savings associations), or committees of people who contribute money to a pool distributed to a member each month. This model has been widely adopted informally in Pakistan amongst families and communities, which the Pakistan-based FinTech has set forth to decentralize and automate.
Observing a %125 YoY growth in total number of transactions in 2021 and a stellar 1,129% YoY increase in amount of funding, the FinTech industry in Pakistan has been recording a solid performance as of August 2021. Amongst the 13 rounds raised in 2021 YTD, Pakistan-based FinTech startups seem to keen on unlocking the full potential of SMEs, informal, and unbanked communities with remarkable funding rounds raised by the likes of DigiKhata, CreditBook, and Sada Pay.
Oraan’s FinTech solutions tackle community and financial pain points, enabling women’s financial inclusion to create a platform for financial consolidation as means of credit/saving support. Based on Oraan’s research, only about 7% of Pakistani women are financially included, creating an even wider gap amongst the 6% Pakistani communities account for in the global unbanked demographic. For many women, trying to access financial services means facing logistical and social barriers. Co-founder Halima Iqbal elaborated “When a woman goes into a bank, the first question we get asked is ‘why do you even need a bank account?’ especially if you’re a freelancer or micro-entrepreneur or unemployed homemaker. These kinds of restrictions have hindered women from having the kind of financial mobility that they require to be able to contribute equally to the economic growth of the country.”
Arising from these pain points, Oraan crafted an ingenious platform that enables users to take part in a wider ROSCA, using automation to cater credit rounds based on needs, urgencies, and financial valuation. Based on Oraan’s research, about 41% of the Pakistani population has participated in a ROSCA and $5Bn gets rotated through them on an annual basis which marks a perfect opportunity for innovation. “The scale of use and what is provided to the user was just so fascinating. This is a goldmine to create something valuable for the end-user, as well as a business opportunity.”
As people participate in committees in Oraan, they also build a payment history, which can open the door to other financial services in the future. This latest investment enables the team to further expand its offering to include savings, credit, insurance, and educational financing, as well as introduce investment products that will allow women to save money in mutual funds and other different asset classes. Further developing its platform expanding its user base brings Oraan one step closer to its vision of creating a Digital Banking Experience in Pakistan as Halima Iqbal concluded “We take this culturally, religiously, socially acceptable tool, which is committees, digitize them and bring women into a more formal space where they can open bank accounts. We want to become a full-fledged neobank very heavily based on community because that’s where we see women wanting a sense of belonging.”
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