Egyptian VC firm Acasia Ventures leads the pre-seed investment round in Balad, a remittance-focused fintech startup in Cairo.
Balad, an Egyptian fintech firm, founded by Adham Azzam, Sally Asaad, and Mohamed Assem, aims to simplify digital remittances for migrants and their families, providing lower fees and instant access to funds. The investment will support the launch of Balad’s remittance platform, technology development, team expansion, licensing, and integrations with banking partners.
Acasia Ventures, an Egyptian venture capital firm, has taken the lead in a seven-figure pre-seed investment round for Balad, a Cairo-based fintech startup focused on remittance services. Launch Africa, Future Africa, V&R, Magic Fund, First Circle, Sunny Side, and several family offices also participated in the funding round.
Balad – Remittance-driven services
Balad, founded in 2022 by Adham Azzam, Sally Asaad, and Mohamed Assem, offers remittance-driven financial services catering to migrants and their families. The startup’s innovative approach includes reduced transfer fees and instant delivery of inward remittances through Balad prepaid cards.
Addressing high fees
The global remittance market involves one in seven people, with approximately USD 700 billion circulating worldwide each year. Egypt ranks as the fifth-largest recipient country for remittances, with a significant portion of its underbanked population relying on these transfers as their primary source of income. However, current transfer fees range between 4-11%, and the duration of transfers can exceed a week. Moreover, both migrants in host countries and families in home countries often lack access to basic financial services.
Balad aims to break down financial barriers by simplifying digital remittances and providing recipients with instant access to funds at lower fees, helping them move toward financial inclusion. This vision aligns with the United Nations’ 10th Sustainable Development Goal, which seeks to reduce the global average fee for remittances from 7% to 3% within a decade and improve financial inclusion for marginalized communities.
Launching platform, developing tech
The investment secured in this funding round will enable Balad to launch its remittance platform, develop the necessary technology, expand its team, obtain required licenses, and complete integrations with its banking partner.
Balad’s founding team boasts a wealth of experience in investment, technology, and finance sectors. Adham Azzam brings five years of successful entrepreneurship in Egypt and the UAE, with 15 years of experience in financing and investment, including roles at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and European institutions. Sally Asaad, with 17 years at Commercial International Bank (CIB), has a strong background in innovation management, fintech, and startup partnerships. Mohamed Assem has over 20 years of experience in software engineering and technical management across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, having led technology teams in various Egyptian fintech companies.
“Acasia Ventures has played a crucial role as our lead investor in the pre-seed round, providing support from the outset and facilitating connections with other funding partners,” said Adham Azzam. “We are excited to leverage Acasia Ventures’ expertise, African connections, and synergies with its portfolio companies.”
Aly El Shalakany, Managing Partner at Acasia Ventures, expressed confidence in Balad’s leadership team, stating, “Balad is led by a seasoned executive team that has demonstrated its ability to bring such a vital product to the market. Its offering is unique and distinctive, providing remittance receivers with a quick and affordable solution to financial access, thus broadening the umbrella of financial inclusion across Egypt and the GCC.”
Fintech continues to soar across Africa, with African fintechs growing by 81% in 2021, according to reports at the tail end of last year.