Oraan, a Karachi-based gender-inclusive fintech, has raised $3 million within the largest seed funding closed by an area women-led startup, consistent with a press statement issued by the corporate.
The statement said the investment was co-led by 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 partner at Magma Partners, who has also come on board as an adviser to the corporate .
Previously, the fintech had raised financing from Tharros, Zayn Capital, an angel syndicate led by Google executives, and Graph Ventures, bringing its total funding raised so far to only over $4m.
Oraan was founded in 2018 by Halima Iqbal, a former underwriter , and Farwah Tapal, a design strategist.
“Oraan was founded once we realised that the massive majority of the Pakistani population struggles to access financial services just because they’re not designed for them,” said Iqbal. “While there’s a requirement among women for credit, insurance and savings services, they’re unable to approach financial institutions thanks to mistrust, complexity of products and challenges around mobility.”
According to the press statement, the startup has designed products and services around credit, insurance, and savings in Pakistan, which it says is home to 5 per cent of the world’s unbanked female population.
The statement described Oraan Committees, the startup’s flagship product, because the digital reimagination of Rotating Saving and Credit Associations (ROSCAs) — an age-old method of group saving and credit.
“ROSCAs, usually referred to as committees or beesees in Pakistan, are employed by 41 per cent of the Pakistani population, with up to $5 billion rotating annually,” it said, explaining that using the Oraan app, users could check in for committees that suited their needs and allowed them to save lots of with groups beyond their immediate geographical and social networks.
Recently, Oraan was selected for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulatory Sandbox programme, the press statement said, adding that today, Oraan boasted a community of over 10,000 savers, 84pc of whom were women, from across 170-plus cities.
“These women use Oraan Committees to save lots of , borrow, build emergency funds, and achieve other goals like travel and buy education, capital , also as medical treatments.”
The statement added that the startup now planned to use its knowledge to launch other financial products especially catering to women “in the hopes of becoming the country’s women-first digital, social bank”.
Speaking about Oraan, Faisal Chowdry of Zayn Capital said: “Having been involved Oraan since early 2020, we are excited to co-lead Oraan’s latest funding round to assist promulgate indigenous finance across Pakistan and within the region. Our belief is that the digitisation of indigenous finance solutions and behaviours is that the key to unlocking the fintech opportunity in Pakistan and providing real utility in terms of product for patrons .”
He added that “being ready to be a neighborhood of the story of the sole women-led and founded fintech in Pakistan, with a goal of empowering women who sit at the financial helm of each household, fits with our ethos at Zayn. “
Funding news just keeps getting better for 🇵🇰 startups. @myoraan just announced the largest seed round by a women-led fintech. Big milestone for women in tech & entrepreneurship & for the millions that have been financially excluded! @H4iqbal @farwahtapalhttps://t.co/owwSZ4RAdD
— Tania Aidrus (@taidrus) September 27, 2021
Similarly, Gavin Lee, general partner at Wavemaker Partners in Southeast Asia , said, “With half Pakistan’s 200+ million population being female, it’s striking that checking account penetration for ladies within the country stands at just seven per cent, making the gender gap in banking access in Pakistan one among the foremost serious within the world.”
“We believe that designing a female-friendly financial product to assist women access the banking industry , and successively allow them to access credit, insurance, and investment, is one among the foremost critical ways to market sustainable economic process in Pakistan,” he added.
Great to see Pakistani women also making their mark in the startup space. Initiatives like oraan which improve financial inclusiveness for women would make a great impact on key strategic objectives like women empowerment and increasing savings rate https://t.co/BDBaGDsn7B
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) September 27, 2021
Commenting on Oraan raising $3 million, former special assistant to the prime minister on digital Pakistan Tania Airdus termed the event a “big milestone” for ladies in tech, entrepreneurship and “millions that are financially excluded”.
Meanwhile, Federal Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asad Umar tweeted that “Initiatives like Oraan which improve financial inclusiveness for ladies would make an excellent impact on key strategic objectives like women empowerment and increasing savings rate.”