Oraan raises USD3m to increase financial inclusion among Pakistani women
On returning to Pakistan after having spent decade in Canada, Halima Iqbal found it difficult to open a bank account and get access to financial services. It took her over three months and at various junctures, she was told to come back with her husband or father. After researching how Pakistani women deal with money, she connected with Farwah Tapal to create Oraan to help women to get access to financial services.
Only 7% of Pakistani woman have access to financial products because of logistical and social barriers. Chauvinistic attitudes have prevented women from having “the kind of financial mobility that they require to be able to contribute equally to the economic growth of the country” Iqbal said.
Oraan recently announced that it raised USD3m in funding, 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.
This is one of the largest seed rounds raised in Pakistan and the largest for a female founded company in the country. Oraan has started with ROSCAs (Rotating Savings and Credit Associations) and plans to expand to other financial services leveraging the network of customers that it has successfully onboarded to date.
Typically, ROSCAs are formed within geographic communities, where there are already strong social ties between friends and neighbours. Each person puts in a set amount of money each month. Who gets a given month’s pool of money is decided by the committee, sometimes by a vote or random draw.
Oraan formalises and digitalises ROSCAs, offering five-month and ten-month plans. Based on Oraan’s research, 41% of the Pakistani population has participated in a ROSCA and over USD5bn gets rotated through them on an annual basis.
“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,” said Iqbal. “We want to become a full-fledged neobank and very heavily based on community because that’s where we see that women want a sense of belonging,” said Iqbal. “When it comes to financial transactions, that’s one of the things they feel they lack, that sense of belonging.”
Resolution Ventures is proud to support Hamila Iqbal and Farwah Tapal as they challenge the status quo and create a more equitable ecosystem that encourages the inclusion of women. Managing Partner, Sam Gibb said, “We have been incredibly impressed with what the team has been able to achieve in a relatively short period of time and believe that with their vision they will be able to create economic empowerment and opportunities for women where they didn’t previously exist!”
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