Pemo raises $12 million Seed round

Pemo, a UAE-based fintech startup that empowers businesses in the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan (MENAP), today announced the launch of its all-in one spend management platform. Pemo provides fast, transparent and simple invoice payment and expense management services for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the region.

Antler, Speedinvest and BY Venture Partners participated in the $12 million round.  Private investment was also made by prominent business angels. This included unicorn founders of companies including Nium and Qonto, Qonto and Billie, Moss and other members of the global and regional tech community such as Abdulla Elyas and Tomaso Rodriguez from Talabat.

Pemo’s platform is designed to meet the needs and requirements of emerging market SMEs. It has started to onboard its first batch of UAE-based firms. Current features include digitized invoices and automated approval flows. One-click invoice payments can be made. Cash flow monitoring is also available. Virtual and physical prepaid cards are available to users. These cards can be used to top up and distribute to employees.  Integration into the Pemo App will allow the prepaid card to automatically categorise employee expenses and capture receipts for each transaction. This will provide full visibility for business owners as well as management teams of corporate spending.

Pemo was founded in 2005 by serial entrepreneurs and Rocket Internet alumni Ayham Gurani, Valerie Konde, Alessandro Duri and Saed Ghorani. These individuals have jointly launched or scaled over eight ventures including Pleo, Zalora, Pleo, and Pleo in the last 15-years.  The founding team includes 20 members who are all alumni of successful tech companies in the local and global areas.

Ayham Gorani, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pemo, said: “We’re operating in a region where more than 90% of businesses are SMEs, many of which rely heavily on multiple platforms, processes and entities to manage their corporate spending, creating a number of challenges, such as irregular expense reports and high costs. By combining all functions of spend management in one place, we aim to remove this daily friction.  Ultimately, this helps businesses to save money and time, while empowering team members to make purchasing decisions quickly and responsibly.”

The most prominent venture capital funds have noticed that corporate spend startups in the US, Europe and Southeast Asia have been in the spotlight for the past two years. Companies like Clara, Pleo, Spenmo, Spenmo, and Spenmo received significant support to scale into new markets and expand their product offerings. Their growth and its resulting private investment were earned by a proven approach of offering corporate cards, combined with the venture’s ability to build software around those cards, taking into account the functionality needed by companies to track expenses, manage to spend access, and save money.

“We’re grateful to have the backing of incredible investors who are bringing a wealth of industry experience and market knowledge to the table.  In particular, it’s hugely beneficial for us to have the support of founders who have successfully built expense management platforms in other markets, and we are looking forward to working closely with them, and our VC partners, as we expand our offering,” Gorani continued.

Pemo hopes to start operations in Saudi Arabia by 2022, following its UAE launch.  The expansion will support the Kingdom’s Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP), which aims to build a cashless economy as part of the Saudi Vision 2030.  The company will eventually expand its geographical footprint to Egypt and Pakistan.

Filip Dames, Founding Partner at Cherry Ventures, which has also backed fintech like Juni and Moss, said: “In the presently available software stack, expense management for companies and employee access to credit or debit cards continues to feel broken — and Alessandro, Valerie, Ayham, and Saed are the team to fix it. We’re excited to team up with them as Pemo offers a full payable suite for an underserved segment and delivers a smart and efficient way for customers to manage expenses and bill payments.”

Mahmoud Adi, Founding Partner at Shorooq Partners, commented: “We are humbled to be partnering with the Pemo team as this incredible journey takes off. We are confident that the founders have a customer-centric approach and strong commitment to growth, making them the best team to support in the expense management sector. Given our deep exposure to fintech infrastructure, we have no doubt that this will be a unique success story and are very excited to see what the future holds for Pemo.”

Faisal Kawar, Principal at FinTech Collective, said: “Pemo’s software has the potential to transform the pain points for over 23 million SMEs in the region, who are currently experiencing a $123 billion financing gap. Pemo’s achievements in such a short amount of time were remarkable, considering the fact that it brought together an all-star veteran team with a unique combination experience and skills.

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