UAE Fintech Zenda raises $9.4 Million Seed to Accelerate India’s Expansion Plans

Zenda, Mena’s first fintech app for families, has announced it has secured a $9.4 million oversubscribed seed round. Zenda is currently addressing pain points surrounding the payment of school fees, including the inability to provide parents with flexible payment options and poor collection.

Zenda was founded in June 2021 by Raman Thiagarajan and Haseeb Ahmed, alumni of McKinsey & Company, where Raman led the Firm’s Financial Services Practice in the Mena region. Zenda is the founders’ second startup and leverages deep insights and knowledge from their successful previous edtech venture.  

With approximately $37 billion processed annually in fee payments to private educational institutions in the GCC, $34 billion in the rest of Middle East and Africa, and $70 billion annually in India, the market is sizable yet largely untapped. Fees for schools (nurseries, K12, tertiary and nurseries) are largely non-digital. Even where they are digital, they are slow, manual, and costly. A majority of families are paid monthly, but fees can be termly or bi-annually. This creates cash flow problems for parents and delays in school collection.

Zenda allows families to track their dues, make payments using a variety of pay-now or pay-later options and earn rewards for paying on-time. Zenda integrates seamlessly with schools using its APIs and proprietary data model (much like Zapier). It also eliminates last-mile reconciliation problems and delays.

Raman Thiagarajan, founder and CEO of Zenda. said: “In today’s digital world, we seek low friction and immediacy – why should that not be the case for fee payments? A large portion of the ecosystem still relies on cash or cheque and has no way to pay it 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 seeing a steady rise in their collections. It is an amazing team, and I feel honored to have such a dedicated group of people along for 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”

Zenda is gaining strong market traction in schools and with families. Zenda’s user base has grown 20X since June 2021, and it reached $100 million in annual contracted volume of TPV by Q4 2021India and UAE. Zenda’s success is also attributable to the team’s expertise and deep insights into how educational institutions operate, from their earlier venture.

Zenda’s mission is to help families thrive. It aims to help families manage their money better and enable financial wellness by providing tailored financial services and banking.

Commenting on this announcement Ihsan Jawad, General Partner at STV said: “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. We couldn’t be happier about Zenda after seeing their strong momentum over the past few months. The UAE is a market worth $8+Billion for private education and they are poised to be the next leaders. They have built an outstanding team and we look forward to working with them in helping Zenda achieve its mission.”

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