Dubai’s Rise raises $1.4 million investment to provide financial services to low-income migrants in Gulf

Dubai-based fintech has closed an investment round led by the Middle East Venture Partners and joined by Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) Fintech Fund, 500 Startups (MENA), Saudi’s Khwarizmi Ventures, and Phoenician Funds.

The startup did not disclose the exact size of the round in the announcement saying it is a seven-figure (USD) round. But a recent newsletter by the Middle East Venture Partner said that it is $1.4 million.

Founded in 2016 by Padmini Gupta, a former World Economic Forum Global Leadership Fellow and her husband Milind Singh who is a serial entrepreneur, Rise provides banking and financial services to the (low-income) unbanked and underbanked migrant workers in the United Arab Emirates.

The startup started with the United Arab Emirates but has plans to launch its services all across the Gulf (starting with Saudi & Bahrain) to bring over 25 million migrant workers in this region under its financial services network. It aims to bring its services to over a million migrants in the next two years, mainly targeting the migrants from Indian, Philippines, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

The services Rise currently offers include no minimum balance bank accounts (in partnership with United Arab Bank), remittances, consumer loans in both UAE and migrant home countries, and some insurance solutions. Rise claims to have grown over 50 percent month-on-month and brought over $125 million of annualized income into the financial services sector.

The Dubai-based startup signed different partnerships in 2019 including an insurance partnership with Axa, cross-border unsecured loans in the Philippines, a ‘pay-later’ product in the GCC in partnership with Carrefour and a credit fund anchored by Astra Amco, a large hedge fund.

It is currently also in discussion with different financial institutions in over 10 countries and expects to add new partners and products to its portfolio in the near future.

Padmini Gupta, Founder and CEO of Rise, commenting on the occasion, said, “At Rise, we offer a one-stop solution of all financial services for the underbanked at a fraction of cost across international boundaries with zero entry levels. Around the world, migrants’ remit around US$650 billion to their families back home and we see this as a great opportunity for us.

“Remittances are made to meet everyday needs and facilitate long-term value creation such as building a house, buying a car, and/or starting a business. We are proud to be the preferred platform of choice with tens of thousands of customers, to date,” she added.

Ankit Sarwahi from MEVP, commenting on the investment, said, “We are hungry for business models that are earthmovers. Rise is building the world’s first financial institution for migrants that will function as a seamless platform that turbocharges asset creation, and they are doing so through technology and innovative partnership models. GCC generates US$150 billion in migrant income and Rise is fundamentally re-organizing how this income has been managed historically.”

Rise will use the investment to expand its team, further develop the suite of its financial products and services, and increase its footprint to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Now Money is another Dubai-based startup that is going after the same problem and has raised about $2 million to date.

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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