“Trees don’t branch out overnight, but if you plant a twig and nurture it to grow, the sky is the limit.”
So said Karam El Dik, co-founder of the eponymously named startup TWIG. His company, an automated savings management platform, wants to “become the MENA region's ‘financial companion,’ and give people the tools, knowledge, and saving plans to set them on the right track towards financial wellbeing and empower them to build healthy financial habits to branch out and achieve their dream goals.”
To achieve this goal, Karam broke the news to the Abu Dhabi SME Hub that TWIG has successfully secured a Pre-Seed seven-figure USD investment from venture capital firms, family offices, and angel investors. We can expect an official announcement in that regard in the coming weeks.
We spoke with Karam to learn more about TWIG’s services and journey so far.
TWIG Co-Founders Karam El Dik, Chafic Idriss and Rayan Antonios (left to right)
Can you tell us about your professional background prior to launching TWIG?
Prior to launching TWIG, I had a rich professional background in the financial industry, with over 10 years of experience working with banks to develop and launch various digital products. My passion for technology and finance converged, and I saw an opportunity to create a platform that addresses the gap between traditional financial services and the evolving needs of consumers.
Along the way, I had the opportunity to launch my own startup, which although was not successful, gave me invaluable experience and a better understanding of the challenges faced by consumers when it comes to managing their finances. These experiences and insights were crucial in shaping my approach and vision for TWIG.
How did the idea behind TWIG originate, and why is there a need for your services in the region?
The idea behind TWIG was born from the recognition of a global problem: the lack of savings and financial literacy. In the region we serve, this problem is especially pronounced, with a significantly lower level of financial literacy compared to other parts of the world.
During his previous job, my co-founder, Chafic Idriss, worked on a study that was particularly striking. It revealed that over 60% of people don't have enough savings to live through retirement. This realisation was a turning point for us, and it motivated us to find a solution to this problem.
In the UAE, where we are based, the situation is even more pressing. A recent survey showed that three out of five adults don't have any savings plans. This is a clear indication that there is a need for better financial education and tools to help people save money and reach their financial goals.
With TWIG, we aim to bridge this gap by providing people with an effortless and smart way to save their money. Our mission is to help people reach their desired financial goals in a less stressful way, while embedding healthy financial habits in their minds.
TWIG is still in the closed Beta stage. What core services do you plan to offer, and how does the overall business model work?
As TWIG is still in its closed Beta stage, we are currently focused on onboarding a select group of customers to test and refine our platform. Our core services include providing personalised and easy-to-use savings plans, helping users track their spending, and offering educational resources to increase financial literacy. Our business model is built on a subscription-based model, where customers can opt for a monthly or annual subscription to access our services and receive ongoing support from our team.
To get started, simply download the TWIG app from the app store on your phone and sign up for an account. Our team will guide you through the onboarding process and help you set up your savings plan. We believe that everyone deserves to have a secure financial future, and our mission is to make that a reality for as many people as possible.
Who is your target demographic?
Our primary target demographic is people between the ages of 20-35 who are in different life transitions, such as starting a new job, getting married, buying a home, or starting a family. We understand that this group is facing unique financial challenges, and they are in need of smart and effortless ways to save their money and reach their desired financial goals. Our app is designed to cater to this demographic, making it easy for them to save, invest, and manage their finances all in one place.
Have you received any support from regional entities like incubators, accelerators, regulators, etc?
Yes, we have received support from various regional entities. We participated in the DIFC Fintech Hub accelerator, which has been instrumental in providing us with the resources and connections to further our growth.
Also, we are also working closely with the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) regulators. This allowed us to obtain our In-Principle licence as the first regulated automated savings fintech in the region. Our goal is to provide innovative financial services to our customers while maintaining a high level of compliance with regulatory standards.
What are your plans for the next 3 years?
We aim to be the MENA region's ‘financial companion,’ and give people in the MENA region the tools, knowledge, and saving plans to set them on the right track towards financial wellbeing and empower them to build healthy financial habits to branch out and achieve their dream goals.
You know, trees don’t branch out overnight, but if you plant a twig and nurture it to grow, the sky is the limit.