Egypt is reliant on remittances as an external resource. It is also home to one startup founder, “luckily for that country,” many might say.
Since 2009, remittances have proven to be a profitable segway for growth in developing Middle Eastern and North African countries, including Egypt. Not only do they act as the best source for migrants to financially support families back home, but remittances boost the economies of both the sending and receiving countries, says startup founder Sally Asaad.
Now Egypt is facing a 15% increase in inflation and 20% currency depreciation in just 2022, according to Steve Hanke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University. Egypt’s economy continues to be hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic such that Egyptian migrants are finding managing self-sustainability and remittances nearly impossible.
Knowing too well the struggles her home faced and tired of waiting for it to improve on its own, Asaad decided to be part of the change. She co-founded Balad, a new Egyptian fintech company giving easy, instant access to remittance funds from across the world.
Backed by experts in technology, banking, business development, marketing, commercial contracting, legal, and leadership, Balad’s plan is to issue a card designed for transparent, immediate, international remittance transfers.
For Asaad and her co-founders, Adham Azzam and Mohamed Assem, taking on the Egyptian remittance problem was a no-brainer. Already well-versed in management, a self-starter and with an entrepreneurial spirit, Asaad knew that her talents could be used to solve remittance struggles.
“I was very excited for the challenge and the opportunity – I love newness and big opportunities.” There's more to life than just the grind, she says.
As an advocate for the entrepreneur and intrapreneur, Asaad values what opportunity brings, not only for others, but for herself: “Creating impact and transforming people’s lives expands my talent and pushes me to grow as a person,” she says. Even if personal growth was a motivator, founding Balad wasn’t simply a fun new project, but a play on Egypt’s own strengths and resources.
Balad acts as a secure and efficient one-stop-shop for digital transfers with their prepaid card and application programming interface, Balad Link. “It provides specialized offers to our targeted customers that are currently unserved,” says Asaad. Other prepaid cards fail to guarantee funds and put clients at risk for issues like hidden fees and illegitimate transfers.
Balad’s card not only secures financial transfers, it gives total transparency to the process. Plus, its API makes remittances accessible through the internet and a mobile app – Balad‘s impact is unstoppable.
But Balad isn’t just a card. It is the answer to breaking down financial barriers that many Egyptian people have felt for years. Boosting remittances means more opportunity for education, healthcare, and higher living standards.
“By availing financial services customized to communities, remittance senders and recipients can contribute to local economic development, creating a ripple effect that benefits the entire community,” says Asaad.
Its foolproof process is another of Balad’s strong suits:
Still in the pre-operational stages of a startup business, one of Balad’s biggest issues has been finding the right international partners. This is changing in 2023, however.
Thanks to their seed round and being engaged in Village Capital’s program, Financial Solutions for Migrants, Asaad and her team have been able to fine tune their knowledge of migrant issues and how fintech competitors continuously fail to meet those needs. “Village Capital provided a focused lens on the problems of migrants as well as financial advisory for our go-to-market plan.”
The startup founder is also awaiting approval for Balad’s Certified Business Enterprise Agency License. Asaad and her co-founders eagerly anticipate this in June 2023, in order to issue cards later in the year or in early 2024.
In the meantime, within its own company, Balad is already making an impact. “Balad has remarkably changed the lives of us as co-founders, we’re all fiercely dedicated to the mission,” says Asaad. She and her team of experts are immersed in Egypt and Egyptian migrants’ success.