Dubai’s Elevate raises $5 million in debt and equity to offer global USD accounts to remote workers in emerging markets

Dubai-headquartered fintech Elevate has raised $5 million in equity and debt in a pre-Series A round from UAE’s Negma Group, it announced in a statement today. The breakdown of debt and equity was not disclosed by the YC-backed startup which previously raised seed funding from Y Combinator, Global Founders Capital, Venture Souq, and Visa. The startup has raised $10 million in equity and debt to date.

Founded in 2021, Elevate initially started as a Sudanese-fintech Bloom to build a neobank for the country but pivoted last year to offer global USD accounts to remote workers in emerging markets. It started with a private beta for the Egyptian and Pakistani markets late last year, with the public launch earlier this year for both these markets plus Bangladesh and the Philippines, where it expanded recently.

“Elevate’s ability to offer U.S.-based banking services to non-U.S. residents is made possible through a partnership with its sponsor bank, Bangor Savings Bank, a 172 year old bank located in Maine and FDIC-member. With Bangor Savings Bank as the deposit taking institution and card issuer, Elevate has enabled remote workers to receive their wages directly into their U.S. bank accounts, utilize their debit card for purchases, and transfer funds to their domestic bank accounts at highly competitive rates,” noted the startup in a statement.

Since its launch, over 150,000 people have signed up for Elevate’s USD accounts, with the solution gaining popularity as a Wise alternative for these markets. For some of the markets where Elevate operates, Wise does not allow new signups anymore. The only other easily available international option for those markets is Payoneer. Elevate claims to offer much better exchange rates than Payoneer and (in some cases Wise as well) for its markets.

In addition to serving freelancers, Elevate also serves remote workers who are working for international firms from Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.

It has established partnerships with different leading freelancing platforms and payroll providers, like Deel.

Khalid Keenan and Youcef Oudjidane, the co-founders of Elevate, said, “Platforms like Deel and Upwork have enabled the surge of remote work in emerging markets, empowering talent from Manila, Lahore, Cairo, or Dhaka to compete on a global scale. However, the outdated system for remote workers to receive USD payments has posed challenges.

“We’re grateful to our partners in supporting us in tackling the payment problem. We’re excited to continue growing in emerging markets while ensuring we prioritize compliance and managing risk in everything we do,” he added.

The startup plans to use the latest funds to launch five new markets later this year; Indonesia, South Africa, Vietnam, and Turkey.

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