Oraan, a fintech startup, raised $3 million in Pakistan’s seed round, which was led by female entrepreneurs. Zayn Capital and Wavemaker Partners led the seed round, with participation from Resolution Ventures, i2i Ventures, Hustle Fund, Haitou Global, and Plug and Play. Claire Diaz-Ortiz, a well-known angel investor and advisor to the company, was also a part of the round.
Halima Iqbal and Farwah Tapal founded the startup with the goal of facilitating women’s access to financial services. According to Halima, opening a basic bank account took her approximately three and a half months. She then began researching how Pakistani women handle money, which inspired her to create the vision of Oraan.
Around 7% of Pakistani women, according to their research, have a basic bank account and are constantly confronted with logistical and social barriers. According to Halima Iqbal, “when a woman walks into a bank, the first question she is asked is, ‘why do you need a bank account?’ This is especially true if she is a freelancer, micro-entrepreneur, or unemployed homemaker. These types of restrictions have prevented women from achieving the financial mobility necessary to contribute equally to the country’s economic growth.”
Oraan has raised over $4 million in total funding to date. Additionally, the two co-founders claim to be the first female entrepreneurs to raise a seed round in Pakistan’s fintech space.
The startup decided to establish rotating credit and savings associations (ROSCAs), or committees that contribute money to a monthly pool of members, in order to diversify its financial services and eventually become a digital bank.
Oraan began with ROSCAs because almost everyone they knew who had participated had an informal one. Approximately 41% of Pakistan’s population has participated in these ROSCAs, which see approximately $5 billion rotate through them annually.
Halima stated the following about Oraan’s long-term goals: “We want to grow into a full-fledged neobank that is heavily based on community because that is where we see women seeking a sense of belonging.” When it comes to financial transactions, that sense of belonging is one of the things they feel they lack.”
As of now, the company has a user base of over 10,000, with 84 percent of users being female. The user base is growing at a rate of over 28% per month.