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Meet The 30 Under 30 Fintech Entrepreneurs Facilitating Access To Capital

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Entrepreneurs on this year’s Finance & Venture Capital list are enabling consumers to fund their education and businesses.


“Study Now Pay Later” is the motto of EduFi, a Lahore-headquartered startup run by Aleena Nadeem to help more Pakistanis go to university. Nadeem’s concept is simple. She realized some paycheck-to-paycheck families couldn’t handle lump sum payments at the start of a semester—but could afford tuition paid monthly.

Nadeem is one of the entrepreneurs on this year’s 30 Under 30 Asia: Finance & Venture Capital list who are making access to capital more convenient.

EduFi has partnered with 27 Pakistani colleges (a number that’s doubled in the past six months), who funnel prospective customers its way. It does its own credit-vetting, then pays tuition for approved students who repay the loan on a monthly basis as they study.

London for Goldman Sachs and Ventura Capital, has been engaged with educational issues since high school. She spent her summers with Progressive Education Network, a nonprofit in Lahore that runs schools for underprivileged children. “My EduFi is an extension of the work that I’ve been doing since I was a kid,” Nadeem says, “trying to bring education to the masses.” That’s a big need in Pakistan. According to a 2021 World Bank projection, only 13% of Pakistanis get a tertiary education.

After a successful pilot launch in 2021, Edufi started disbursing loans earlier this year. Investors were convinced: EduFi’s $6.1 million pre-seed round in November led by Zayn VC was the largest such round in Pakistani startup history.

Also is Pakistan, Sarkhail Bawany is the head of product at fintech company Abhi, which empowers workers to withdraw a percentage of their salary before the next paycheck when they need emergency cash. Abhi works on a B2B2C model, partnering with companies such as Unilever Pakistan to offer the service as a benefit to employees. Abhi has expanded to the Middle East and Bangladesh. The company also issued $6.8 million in Islamic bonds in May 2023, following a $17 million Series A in 2022. Bawany is also CEO of the startup’s payment services subsidiary, Abhipay.

Another example is Aalesh Avlani, cofounder of India-based financing company specializing in motorcycle loans, Credit Wise Capital (CWC). Founded in 2019, CWC obtained $6 million in seed funding a year later. Using technology such as a WhatsApp bot for credit scoring, CWC minimizes the application process and makes it easier for people without credit histories to get loans. “This has enabled several first-time credit buyers to own 2-wheelers, which translated into improved agriculture, livelihoods, and opportunities for education and skill development,” Avlani says. CWC’s customers are mainly in tier-2, 3 and 4 cities in the country. The company is also expanding to expanding into personal loans and healthcare insurance.

In Bangladesh, Abdul Gaffar Sadi, MD Tushar and MD. Shahidul Islam founded Dhaka-based Drutoloan, which translates to “quick loan” in English. The company helps micro and small businesses get lending from banks and financing companies, helping them with the paperwork and helping lenders assess creditworthiness. Since starting in 2019, the cofounders said the company disbursed over $2 million in loans. In November it raised $125,000 in preseed funding.

And to make it easier and cheaper to move money around the globe, Mikaela Reyes cofounded Manila-based cross-border payment startup Parallax. She launched the company in 2023 after working as a freelancer and experiencing the hassles of getting paid from another country. Parallax initially targeted users from the Philippines but now has customers from over 150 countries. In September, Parallax raised $4.5 million in seed funding in a round led by Dragonfly Capital.

Check out our complete 2024 30 Under 30 Asia: Finance & Venture Capital list here, and the full 2024 30 Under 30 Asia coverage, click here.

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