Habib Bank Limited (HBL), Pakistan’s largest commercial bank, has become the first bank in Pakistan to invest in a digital fintech startup with its significant participation in the last tranche of Finja’s Series A1 round. HBL joins leading global fintech funds invested in Finja including BeeNext, Vostok Emerging Finance, Quona Capital, and ICU Ventures.
All investors from previous rounds topped up their investment in this round of financing.
HBL’s investment in Finja serves two of the bank’s strategic priorities: investing in digital financial inclusion and development finance companies, especially ones making an impact in agriculture and SMEs – as these are the backbone of the economy – and reinventing HBL to become a ‘technology company with a banking license’.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in April last year, Finja has built its digital lending portfolio by 550%, disbursing over 50,000 digital loans to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Despite their economic importance, small businesses in Pakistan have traditionally struggled to obtain the credit they require in to grow.
“We are pleased to have HBL participate in this funding round. Our know-how in digitally scoring undocumented small businesses has resulted in 64% month-on-month portfolio growth since the outbreak of the pandemic,” comments Qasif Shahid, CEO and Co-Founder of Finja. “HBL’s financial clout, extensive network, and progressive leadership will help us support and nurture Pakistan’s most important business segment, the SMEs.”
“These loans are critical for Pakistan’s economic growth. Our productive loans result in a 40% increase in SME revenue with less than a 1% default rate,” adds Monis Rahman, Chairman and Co-Founder of Finja.
Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO of HBL, closes with “We are pleased to be investing in FINJA. Pakistan’s fintech landscape has immense opportunities. At HBL we believe that by making this investment we are not only developing the startup ecosystem, but it will also pave the way for Pakistan to play a bigger role in the fintech space globally. SME lending is the future and therefore we are investing in Finja which enjoys a first mover advantage over the market in digitally lending to SMEs in this country.”