Pakistan has one of the world’s fastest-growing middle class populations and has seen a 720% increase in 4G users over the last five years. In January 2021, 100 million internet connections were registered in the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However, a large number of the population still remains offline, and microentrepreneurs still use pen and paper to keep track of their transactions. Digital bookkeeping startup CreditBook is trying to make sure that those people weren’t left behind in this digitalization trend. The Karachi-based company announced today that it has raised US$1.5 million seed funding from international and local investors.
Creditbook founders (from left): Iman Jamall, Hasib Malik, and Hisham Adamjee / Photo credit: CreditBook
Investors included Pakistan’s BitRate Venture Capital, VentureSouq from the United Arab Emirates, US-based Better Tomorrow Ventures, Ratio Ventures, Quiet Capital, Toy Ventures, and i2i Ventures. Chinmay Chauhan and Abhinay Peddisetty – founders of Indonesian digital bookkeeper BukuWarung – as well as Musha Ventures and Colombian delivery app Rappi also participated in this round. This also marks the first investment in Pakistan by Better Tomorrow and Ratio. Founded in June 2020 by Hasib Malik, Iman Jamall, and Hisham Adamjee, CreditBook aims to help microentrepreneurs digitalize and track all of their transactions. Its main features are a digital ledger and tracking for accounts receivables and accounts payables – similar to the services provided by KhataBook and OkCredit in India. CreditBook wants to use the new fund to scale its users and product offerings. According to the company, its registered user base grew 5x over the last six months to reach 500,000.
“Prior to launch in June 2020, we had planned to use a mix of digital marketing and offline acquisition. But with lockdown restrictions, we pivoted to a purely digital strategy. We were surprised when we saw over thousands of users come onto the platform in the first month with less than $1,000 dollars in total spend,” Malik told Tech in Asia.
Prior to this funding, the company received a small pre-seed funding from individuals within Pakistan’s retail and financial sectors.
Customized to the Pakistani market
Apart from CreditBook, there are several other digital bookkeeping players in Pakistan, including Y Combinator graduate Udhaar. In fact, people in the country can also use Indian products like KhataBook.
However, CreditBook says that its app is available in six local languages, making it the most comprehensive app in the space. The startup also has 15 employees right now, most of them working in tech and marketing.
“For the first six months of operations, we were able to bootstrap the company entirely and yet scale to over 100,000 users despite being second entrants to the market,” Malik recalled.
He adds that while the team learns from similar apps in India and Indonesia, CreditBook is targeting product-market fit so it’s contextually relevant to Pakistan. “Our approach will continue to remain lean as we focus on growth and product through deep research and informed design decisions.”
Malik says that CreditBook hasn’t monetized the product yet as the startup wants to focus on scaling its user base while ensuring that it doesn’t compromise customer trust.