Financial wellness for unbanked: Neem raises $2.5m in seed funding

Funding round was led by 'leading fintech global and local investors
<p>Neem has been founded by three cofounders, experienced fintech entrepreneurs, operators and ex-VC, Nadeem Shaikh, Vladimira Briestenska and Naeem Zamindar. PHOTO: COURTESY NEEM</p>

Neem has been founded by three cofounders, experienced fintech entrepreneurs, operators and ex-VC, Nadeem Shaikh, Vladimira Briestenska and Naeem Zamindar. PHOTO: COURTESY NEEM

Embedded finance platform Neem on Tuesday announced that it had raised around $2.5 million in seed funding from local and global investors.

This is the first time the financial wellness company has raised money as it seeks to further its mission of “bringing financial wellness to Pakistan’s underbanked communities - both individuals and businesses,” the company announced on Tuesday.

The funding round was led by a large consortium of local and foreign investors including SparkLabs Fintech, Arif Habib Ltd, Cordoba Logistics and Ventures Ltd, Taarah Ventures, My Asia VC, Concept Vines, Building Capital, Partners at Outrun Ventures and strategic angels as CSO of tech house BPC, Founding Partner at Mentors Fund, as well as fintech veteran and ex-CEO of Seccl and others.

“We have a strong conviction about Neem’s mission to enable financial wellness for underbanked communities,” said William Chu of SparkLabs FinTech. He added that they have full confidence in the Neem leadership team to realise this vision amidst global macro challenges.

“We are really excited about our investment in Neem which is looking to transform the financial landscape in the country,” commented Shahid Ali Habib, CEO of Arif Habib Ltd. “We strongly believe in Neem’s ability as a leading embedded finance platform to drive financial inclusion in Pakistan which aligns well with the core values of Arif Habib Group.”

Vladimira Briestenska, a co-founder at Neem, explained that they believe that financial inclusion requires a shift towards a more holistic approach catering for the full financial needs of people and businesses, a Financial Wellness model.

This includes giving individuals and businesses control through payments; addressing their needs through credit; absorbing risk through access to insurance, and at the top of the financial wellness pyramid sits financial freedom through savings and investments.

“It’s time to evolve from financial inclusion to financial wellness to fully capture the shift in people’s financial needs,” she said, adding that it is important to move beyond providing just access to a bank account.

“This has been recognised also by global players like M-PESA. The paradigm shift toward financial wellness is now possible thanks to the emergence of new business and technology models,” Briestenska said.

Nadeem Shaikh, a co-founder of Neem, said, “The embedded finance revolution that is taking place globally in financial services is about democratisation, personalisation and access to products and services at the point of experience,” said.

“At Neem, we aim to provide solutions to customers when and where they need it,” he added.

What is Neem?

Neem works to seamlessly embed financial products and services into underbanked communities across diverse sectors, including agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), e-commerce, logistics, healthcare, and others.

Neem’s embedded finance platform has two core offerings:

  • a Banking as a Service (BaaS) platform and
  • a lending platform

Neem’s BaaS platform allows partners to embed wallets and payments into their communities as well as offer financial products such as insurance and savings customised to the community’s needs.

The lending platform allows partners to provide tailored lending products for both consumers and MSMEs.

“The core of our model is embedding Neem into various value chains across diverse communities, and our B2B2C platform is leveraging deep trust and relationship with already existing platforms,” said Naeem Zamindar, a co-founder at Neem.

“We amplify those platforms by bringing financial services to their end-customers at a very accessible and low acquisition cost.”



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