zenda, the fintech app for families has announced it has secured a $9.4M oversubscribed seed round with participation from STV, COTU, Global Founders Capital, and VentureSouq. zenda currently addresses pain points around the payment of school fees – in particular, the lack of convenience and flexibility in payment options for parents and the poor collection of payments for schools. The funds will be used for product development and market expansion in India.
With approximately USD70B processed annually in fee payments to private educational institutions in India, USD37B in the GCC,and USD34B in the rest of Middle East and Africa, the market is sizable yet largely untapped. Fee payments in schools (nurseries – K12 – tertiary) are significantly non-digital, and even where digital, cumbersome, manual and expensive. Also the majority of families earn monthly but fee payments are usually termly or bi-annual, resulting in cash flow stress for parents and collection delays for schools.
Using zenda, families can track dues and make payments through a multitude of pay-now and pay-later options, and unlock rewards for paying on time. zenda integrates with schools through its proprietary data model and APIs (much like zapier) and eliminates last mile reconciliation challenges and delays.
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 start-up, and leverages deep insights and knowledge from their successful previous ed-tech venture.
CEO and founder of zenda, Raman Thiagarajan said:
“In today’s digital world, we seek low friction and immediacy – why should that not be the case for fee payments? Part of the ecosystem still runs on cash with no convenient option to pay later. Since our launch, feedback from the market and especially from our users has been terrific. Over the past months in India we have built a pipeline of more than 1000+ institutions and are immensely grateful for their trust. It is gratifying to see the response from parents and seeing how they have embraced our service. zenda schools are witnessing a systematic increase in their collections. We have a truly outstanding team and I feel privileged to have such a passionate group with us on this journey.”
After its initial launch in UAE, zenda initiated India entry and operations in Q3 2021; zenda witnessed strong market traction with schools and with families. It has grown its user base 20X since June 2021 and crossed the $100M+ in annual contracted TPV volume by Q4 2021, across both markets. With more than 40 team members now, and 2/3rds in India, the team has scaled rapidly, operating out of Bangalore, Kochi, Delhi and Dubai. 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. In the future, it aims to make it easier for families to manage money and to enable their financial wellness through tailored banking and financial experiences.
Commenting on the 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. Seeing their strong traction over the past several months, we couldn’t be more excited about zenda. India and the GCC are a USD 100+ billion market for private education fees. They have built an outstanding team and we look forward to working with them in helping zenda achieve its mission.”