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Dubai-based fintech Zywa gets backed by Y Combinator and closes a $1M pre-seed round for its teen neobank. Besides Y Combinator, the strategic investors from the United States and the Middle East who participated in the round include executives from Google, Amazon, Netflix, McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, as well as regional bankers and entrepreneurs.
Zywa is part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2022 batch (YC W22) that kicked off early this year. Y Combinator is the most globally renowned start-up accelerator that has backed unicorns like Airbnb, Reddit, Dropbox, Coinbase, Stripe, DoorDash, Instacart, Brex, GitLab, and has a collective portfolio value of $600 billion plus.
Founded in 2021 by young entrepreneurs Alok Kumar and Nuha Hashem, Zywa is bringing a unique solution to the region through offering a social banking app and a payment card to Gen Zs between the age of 11-21 years old.
Growing up as teenagers in the GCC region, the young founders personally felt the pain point of using cash while growing up and took it upon themselves to enable Gen Z in the region to go cashless. The startup is building a solution for Gen Z and has already assembled a founding team of Gen Zs and young Millennials.
“Gen Z will be the most active segment in the workforce during the next decade, and our vision is to build a platform that will not only help them go cashless but also facilitate their interaction with Web 3.0. It is quite humbling to be a part of Y Combinator and we are excited that Zywa is among the very few companies that are selected globally. We believe Y Combinator’s mentorship, extensive network and access to strategic global capital will be a catalyst to propel us towards our vision at a faster pace,” said Alok Kumar, co-founder and CEO of Zywa.
The team has already secured strategic partnerships in Egypt and the UAE, and the app is already available on the App Store where teens and parents are able to join the waitlist. Zywa is planning to launch in Egypt and the UAE soon and prepping to go live in Saudi Arabia by 2023.
“When we started in 2021, our priority was to build a solution that is tailored for teens and their parents in the region. We assembled an in-house tech team and developed a product which is available in both English and Arabic, free of cost and can reinforce teens’ financial literacy through a learning-by-doing approach. It also gives them a social space to interact with their peers, earn rewards, and even rack up collectible NFTs on the side. Parents can also track their kids’ spending and saving behaviour, have complete oversight, and transfer money instantly to their kids. Through Y Combinator’s vast resources as well as a world-class network of experts, we are confident that we can build and scale the product to something that Gen Zs all over the region will love,” said Nuha Hashem, co-founder and CTO of Zywa.
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