Money & Banking

Why Covid was a boon to fintech start-up Finwego

NARAYANAN V Chennai | Updated on November 17, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic came as a bane for many and boon for some. For Chennai-based fintech start-up Finwego, it was clearly the latter.

Neo-banking platform

A first-of-its-kind neo-banking platform for the education sector, Finwego offers a unified revenue management tool and banking application to private educational institutions to easily track the overall performance of the institute/branches, simplify cash management, and analyse student enrolment and financial trends. It also partners with banks and NBFCs to offer loans to schools, managements, staff, vendors, teachers, and parents who apply through the platform.

“Today, we have 1,300 education institutions on our platform and most of them have come after Covid,” said Finwego co-founder Shiv Vadivelalagan, adding: “We are happy about the way our numbers have scaled. Particularly post-Covid, our offering has become all the more relevant, when the revenue is very scare one wants to ensure every bit of revenue is accounted for and arrest any revenue leakages.”

The genesis

Instituted in 2018 by Vadivelalagan’s wife and co-founder Pavee Ramanisankar, Finwego was incubated at Harvard University, where Ramanisankar did her Master’s in Education. Coming from a family of educationists, Ramanisankar started Finwego with an objective to enable credit flow to the education sector after facing several challenges while raising capital to expand a school which she took over from her mother.

A former financial services professional himself, Vadivelalagan said that unlike other sectors, educational institutions in India barely get the kind of financial support since most of the schools and colleges are incorporated as trust or non-profit societies to which banks are averse lending to. He also added that poor adoption to technology and maintenance of manual financial records is one of the other major reasons that keep educational institutions away from formal banking channels.

“This is the problem we are trying to solve. We offer neo-banking platform through which educational institutes can completely have control and visibility on their fee collection and revenue,” he added.

Finwego recently conducted a survey of around 300 educational institutions across 185 areas in India, and found that only 16 per cent of the surveyed were using an ERP or a similar software to manage their business, while the remaining 84 per cent operate manually in the form of handwritten notebooks or excel sheets.

“Going forward, technology will play a very important role in the education sector. While we think only city-based institutions are embracing technology, we have customers in Manipur, Jammu & Kashmir and India-Bhutan border using our platform to digitise fee collection,”” said Vadivelalagan.

With 1,300 customers spread across 20 States, Finwego has set an astronomical target of reaching one lakh institutions over the next five years, including schools, colleges, air hostess training academy, maritime training institutes, dance studios, and yoga institutes, among others.

“There are about one million private institutions in India. In the next five years, we want to take at least 10 per cent of the market share,” Vadivelalagan added.

Finwego raised $1.7 million in its seed round from SAIF Partners and a group of HNIs and angels last year, and it aims to raise another round of funding in the coming year to augment its growth plans.

Published on November 17, 2020

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