Abhi, a fintech startup in Pakistan, has made history by becoming the first startup in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) region to raise funds via a Sukuk bond. The move has netted the innovative firm Rs2 billion (approximately $6.8 million).
Omair Ansari, CEO and Co-Founder of Abhi, said there was huge demand for the bond, with subscriptions reaching twice the anticipated amount.
Launched in 2021, the Karachi-based company enables its partners’ employees to withdraw salary advances based on their accrued wages at any time. It also offers working capital to firms. The funding round, which takes Abhi’s valuation to $90 million, came only a year after its launch and follows its recent expansion into the United Arab Emirates. The startup is also in the process of acquiring a stake in courier firm Universal Network Systems Ltd.
The success of the fundraising round is a significant boost for Pakistan’s startup sector, which has been hit hard by the country’s economic struggles. With several startups, including Airlift and Vavacars, having closed recently, and others such as Maersk-backed Trella announcing their exit from the country, Abhi’s fundraising success is a welcome surprise in a tough environment.
Ansari believes Abhi’s success demonstrates the potential for growth in Pakistan, where many banks have “stepped away” from lending to the real economy. He added that the funds raised would enable the firm to “help ease the financial burden on struggling companies”, while improving access to working capital and meeting the surging demand for salary payments.