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Aavishkaar Announces Its First Investment in Bangladesh with CloudWell, a Payment Systems Company

This is the third investment from its Aavishkaar Frontier Fund (AFF), a regional fund which invests in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan.

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 USD 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 the partnership with Aavishkaar, Anisul Islam, Chairman & CEO of CloudWell said, “With this investment from Aavishkaar, PayWell will expand its market across Bangladesh with a targeted network of more than 30,000 agents in 2 years, retailing various services to consumers and also equipping SMEs and enterprise merchants to accept payments from more than 30 million mobile financial services users.”

Faizul Hamid, Managing Director of CloudWell Limited added, “PayWell was established as a unitary distribution platform to simplify payments for everyone. We launched in 2012 in a cash dominated market, with trustworthy payment tools at neighbourhood stores, enabling easy access to high volume services such as mobile top-up, bill payments, money transfer, etc. for consumers and also boosting footfall at retail stores Our partnership with Aavishkaar Frontier Fund is another big step forward to create an impact in organized retail distribution network in the country.”

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.

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