UAE FinTech platform Rise raises over $1 million for GCC expansion

The start-up offers financial products and services for modest-income migrants

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 24, 2017:    Padmini Gupta co-founder of Rise at her office in the Jumeirah Lake Tower area of Dubai October 24, 2017. Christopher Pike / The National

Reporter: Suzanne Locke
Section: Business
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UAE FinTech platform Rise, which offers financial products and services for modest-income migrants, raised over $1 million (Dh3.67m) to expand within the GCC.

The exact amount was not disclosed, as "it becomes distracting to the entire business", but it was a seven-figure investment, co-founder Milind Singh told The National.

The funding round was led by Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), in partnership with the Dubai International Financial Centre FinTech fund, Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups, Khwarizmi Ventures and Phoenician Funds.

Rise, founded in 2017, plans to use the funds to expand its team, develop its financial products and services and expand to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Its mission is to integrate the workforce of the 25 million migrants in the GCC into the financial services network.

“We are excited to proceed into the next phase of our growth backed by the strong support demonstrated by leading investors who are interested in our mission,” said Padmini Gupta, co-founder and chief executive of Rise.

“We are hungry for business models that are earth movers,” said Ankit Sarwahi, associate director at lead investor MEVP. “Rise is building the world’s first financial institution for migrants and it is doing so through technology and innovative partnership models. GCC generates $150 billion in migrant income and Rise is fundamentally re-organising how this income has been managed historically.”

The UAE sees billions of dirhams remitted annually. According to the World Bank, the Emirates saw the second-highest amount of outward remittance in the world after the US in 2017. Total outward remittances in 2018 from the Emirates totalled Dh169.2bn, according to the UAE Central Bank.

Ms Gupta and Mr Singh, who are husband and wife, initially founded Rise with a focus on domestic helpers, but the platform has since expanded to serve other segments of the UAE’s migrant population. Since its launch in 2018, it has grown over 50 per cent month-on-month, brought over $125m of annualised income into the financial services sector, and has “tens of thousands of customers”, the company said.

The products Rise offers include bank accounts that don’t require a minimum balance or salary, remittances, insurance products and consumer loans in both the UAE and migrant home countries.

Last year Rise launched an insurance product with Axa, cross-border unsecured loans in the Philippines, a pay-later product with Carrefour, and a credit fund through Astra Amco – one of the largest hedge funds globally and an early-stage Rise investor.

“There are 250 million migrants globally and they support back home a billion people. That’s one in seven of humanity and there’s no thinking of how they need to manage their money,” Mr Singh said. “We have a unique opportunity to build a truly global business that solves problems for one of the biggest segments in the region.”