The co-founder of financial services platform Rise explains how her business is putting migrants back in charge of their finances, and how the startup is benefitting from being part of Hub71’s global tech ecosystem

On 18 December 2020, International Migrants Day, the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres spoke of the challenges of migration, especially during a pandemic, but also of the benefit to economies and the economic opportunities stemming from the movement of people around the world. He said: “Let us seize the opportunity to implement the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, to reimagine human mobility and to enable migrants to reignite economies at home and abroad and build more inclusive and resilient societies.”

Improving the lives of migrants is the mission of financial services platform Rise, a business founded in 2017 by Padmini Gupta (CEO), Milind Singh (CPO), and Mandeep Singh (CTO), which has a branch in Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem, Hub71. The company talked to Verdict about how helping 250 million migrants will effectively support 1 billion people build a better future by bringing essential financial services from their home and host country together on one platform –accounts, insurance, investments or credit cards.

Rise of the startup

All three founders recognised something needed to be done to create a fairer banking experience and help those who may not be “on the financial ladder”. Rise’s collective experience in banking and financial technology – between them they have worked at Facebook, the World Economic Forum and Booz & Co – combined with their passion for connecting the unconnected, was the start of the idea for the firm.

Gupta explains: “Migrants matter – they support almost one-seventh of humanity – or a billion people – but are poorly served by mainstream financial institutions. They end up remitting most of their income back to their families and have little control or visibility on how that money is spent. They are unable to get credit for their financial needs in their home country and in most cases even in their host country.

“They often work in informal sectors in their host country and are not perceived as financially attractive to banks. In their home country, regulations prevent financial institutions from effectively serving them. It’s a vicious circle.”

Working with regulated financial institutions, Rise offers a range of products that put the migrant customer back in control of their finances. One of these products, the newly launched Xare, empowers anyone, anywhere, to instantly share access to their account and credit card with friends and family, while maintaining total control over how their hard-earned wages are spent and most importantly, without sharing sensitive information.

Xare also empowers parents who want to give their children cash for their day-to-day expenses or as a gift, adds Gupta: “In 2020, 47% of all borrowers in America and 80% of all borrowers in India borrowed from their community – not from banks. Xare is a platform that powers these communities with ease and complete security. It makes everyone a bank and enables a future with a billion banks,” she says.

 Financial equality and community spirit

Being based in the dynamic tech community of Hub71 has proven invaluable for this ambitious business. The co-founders have discovered that having a base alongside other global startups in Abu Dhabi gives them all the components they needed to grow a successful venture, all under one roof.

“We were so proud to be chosen as Hub71 startup,” explains Gupta. “Building a business is a multi-year journey and requires more than just a great idea and funding. As you evolve, you need different skillsets, access to a critical mass of talent and capital – all of which are being assembled by Hub71. For a startup like us, – now in its scale-up phase – these elements are incredibly attractive.”

After a hugely challenging year for the global economy, with the impact of Covid-19 still being felt in many countries, the Rise team sees the benefit of its Hub71 status in two ways: “In the post-Covid era of remote working and distributed talent, a couple of things will matter and both of these are well covered by Hub71.

“The first is quality of infrastructure. Hub71 and Abu Dhabi have world class infrastructure in terms of network (connectivity) and physical (schools, transportation, roads). This can have a massive bearing on the quality of life of teams.

“Second, is critical talent mass – Hub71 is unique in aggregating global talent driven by strong incentives. This makes a difference when you are growing a hub, even if your HQ needs to be elsewhere.”

Interested in joining startups and world-changing organisations like Rise? Head to https://www.hub71.com/application to see how Abu Dhabi and Hub71 can help accelerate your startup.

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