Aavishkaar, one of the world’s leading impact investors, makes its inroads in Bangladesh with an investment in CloudWell Limited. Aavishkaar Frontier Fund, which focuses on South & Southeast Asia is investing $2 million in CloudWell, a payment systems company that provides agent-based last mile payment solutions to a host of service providers such as telecom operators, mobile financial services players and other billers under the brand name ‘PayWell’. This investment will enable acceleration of CloudWell’s growth and scale up of its nationwide network.
Founded in November 2012, PayWell is an organized retail approach by CloudWell, which leverages technology and aims to provide convenient payment solutions to major business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations in the utility, telecom, financial services, transport, retail and e-commerce sectors in Bangladesh. By using point-of-sale (POS) / mobile apps / web apps available in retail outlets of PayWell, customers can avail various payment and transaction services such as airtime top up, utility bill payments, bus/train ticket purchases, transacting using mobile financial services (MFS) accounts etc.
This retail approach acts as a one-stop shop for organizations with a large numbers of customers who want to pay via cash or card in friendly, conveniently located local shops, which are open for long hours. CloudWell already has a network of over 5,000 retailers across 34 out of 64 districts in the country with a majority from districts outside Dhaka. With a growing retailer network, the company intends to catalyse entrepreneurship and increase economic benefit to PayWell retailers in urban and rural Bangladesh.
On Aavishkaar’s entry into Bangladesh with this investment, Sanchayan Chakraborty, Partner at Aavishkaar elaborates, “CloudWell provided a compelling investment case for Aavishkaar, with a skilled entrepreneur team creating a highly scalable business, ramping up on the back of large and growing mobile financial services and digital economy. We are pleased to have made the first investment in Bangladesh and look forward to playing a role in supporting the startup and SME ecosystem in the country.”
This is the third investment from its Aavishkaar Frontier Fund (AFF), a regional fund which invests in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan. Aavishkaar is recognized as a global pioneer in entrepreneurship based approach to development through its early stage venture capital investments in enterprises working with the low income population in rural and underserved markets.