Pakistan’s Embedded Financial Platform Neem raised $2.5 million in a seed funding round as it works to support underbanked communities in the country.
The Karachi-based startup targets communities in sectors including agriculture, MSMEs, e-commerce, logistics, healthcare and others. It provides a lending platform that partners use to deliver tailored lending products to consumers and MSMEs. Neem is also working on a Banking as a Service (BaaS) platform, due to go live in December, that will help partners embed wallets and payments, and offer financial products such as insurance and savings are customized to specific community needs.
3-year-old Neem was founded by Nadeem Shaikh, Vladimira Briestenska and Naeem Zamindar, who have previously worked as fintech entrepreneurs, operators and VCs.
“Almost [existing] players are providing B2C solutions; we are a B2B2C solution. If you look at the embedded finance space, it’s a $167 billion opportunity,” Shaikh said in an interview with TechCrunch.
Thanks to COVID, the dramatic growth in digitization has enabled Neem to embed its financial services in the private and public sectors.
Citing industry figures, Shaikh said about 53 million people in Pakistan currently lack banks. Over time, the startup plans to reach beyond Pakistan and support low-banking communities in other developing markets.
The seed funding, which the startup aims to use to expand its existing team of 20, deploy the BaaS platform and capitalize on the licenses, is led by Hong-based SparkLabs Fintech Kong. The funding round also involved Pakistani investment banking company Arif Habib, Cordoba Logistics and Ventures, Taarah Ventures, My Asia VC, Concept Vines and Building Capital. In addition, partners at Outrun Ventures and strategic angels such as CSO of technology company BPC, founding partner at Mentors Fund and former fintech and former CEO of Seccl also participated in the seed round.
William Chu, Executive Partner, SparkLabs Fintech, said: “We strongly believe in Neem’s mission to bring financial soundness to low-banking communities and fully believe in it. Neem leadership team to realize this vision amid global macro challenges,” said William Chu, Managing Partner of SparkLabs Fintech. statement.
The start-up company was started before the investment was received.