Udhaar Book Raises Funds to Digitize Pakistan’s Retail Shops
(Bloomberg) -- Udhaar Book, a Pakistani cashflow management services provider for small businesses, raised $6 million in early funding to digitize mom-and-pop stores that mostly operate using a manual register and handwritten entries.
The Karachi-based startup, whose parent is Toko Lab Inc., raised the money in seed funding from investors including Fatima Gobi Ventures, Plaid co-founder William Hockey’s Muir Capital, Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen’s JAM Fund LLC, Integra Partners and Commerce Ventures LLC.
Venture capital and private equity investors are ramping up investment in Southeast Asian nations and India. Startups in Pakistan too have seen the funding rush this year with inflows at a record about $300 million, which is more than the past six years combined, according to data from Crunchbase and Invest2Innovate.
Pakistan is mostly a cash-based economy but startups are looking to change that. The nation is home to as many as 30 million micro-, small- and medium-enterprises that operate manually and deal in cash. Many small business owners such as grocery shops are not able to expand since they need to keep an eye on drawer holding all the cash, Fahad Kamr, Udhaar’s co-founder said in an interview.
Udhaar Book that started last year has 1.4 million registered users and a little over half-a-million monthly active users, which according to Kamr is the highest active user base in the digital bookkeeping segment for small stores. The company’s app also allows small businesses services such as inventory, invoicing and payroll management, among others.
“We’ve barely scratched the surface so obviously expanding the reach of the product is super important at this time,” said Kamr, who moved back from Canada for the venture and was previously a founding member of data portal Market IQ. “That’s where a lot of the funding will also go.”
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