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MENA’s first fintech app for school fees scores $9.4M funding for its pay now, pay later model

Image credits: zenda

zenda, a Dubai-based fintech app, announced on Monday that it has secured a $9.4M oversubscribed seed funding round. The capital was provided by regional and global investors, including STV, COTU, Global Founders Capital, and VentureSouq.

Founded by Raman Thiagarajan and Haseeb Ahmed, alumni of McKinsey & Company in 2021, zenda addresses pain points around the payment of school fees – in particular, the lack of convenience and flexibility in payment options.

Raman Thiagarajan, CEO and founder of zenda says, “In today’s digital world, we seek low friction and immediacy – why should that not be the case for fee payments? Part of the ecosystem still runs on cash or cheque with no convenient option to pay later. Since our launch, feedback from the market and especially from our users has been terrific – we are grateful & pumped with the response from parents and seeing how they have embraced our service. zenda schools are witnessing a systematic increase in their collections. We have a truly outstanding team and I feel privileged that such a passionate group is with us on this journey. We are excited and hopeful for the possibilities ahead – in providing customer-centric digital financial services to solve some of the simple yet important problems for families in our regions.”

What does zenda solve?

With approximately $37B processed annually in fee payments to private educational institutions in the GCC, $34B in the rest of the Middle East and Africa, and $70B annually in India, the market is sizable yet largely untapped. 

Fee payments in schools (nurseries – K12 – tertiary) are mostly non-digital, and digital payments are cumbersome, manual, and expensive. While families earn monthly, fee payments are usually termly or bi-annual, resulting in cash flow stress for parents and collection delays for schools.              

From paying school fees to saving for short-term expenses such as family trips to investing in education, family finance has remained stuck in a single-player paradigm. 

Here’s where zenda’s solution comes into play. The fintech company is on a mission to help families thrive. Zenda aims to make it easier for families to manage money and enable their financial wellness through tailored banking and financial experiences.

How does it solve?

With zenda, families can track dues and make payments through a multitude of pay-now and pay-later options as well as unlock rewards for paying on time. 

The platform integrates with schools through its proprietary data model and APIs and eliminates last-mile reconciliation challenges and delays.

Consequently, the platform has witnessed strong market traction with schools and with families, claims the company. 

According to zenda, its user base grew 20X since June 2021 and crossed $100M+ in annual contracted TPV volume by Q4 2021 across UAE and India.  On the security side, all communication is end-to-end encrypted and cyber security best practices are adhered to. 

How get started?

1. Download the zenda app from here.

2. Enter the school code

3. Use the mobile or email registered with the school to sign up

Commenting on the announcement, Ihsan Jawad, General Partner at STV says, “Raman, Haseeb, and the team have identified a compelling gap in the market and in supporting families on a topic that is very important to them. Seeing their strong traction over the past several months, we couldn’t be more excited about zenda. The UAE itself is a USD 8+ billion markets for private education fees and they are already well poised to capture leadership. They have built an outstanding team and we look forward to working with them in helping zenda achieve its mission.”

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