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This article is part of an ongoing series covering startups that have been a part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) accelerator program.

As pivotal as it is to any given business, the task of accounting can often be quite mundane and time-consuming. Add to this the fact that, despite being one of the oldest facets of business operations, the accounting space hasn’t made major strides in automation. It is therefore to solve problems central to this issue -and specifically for small and medium enterprises (SMEs)- that UAE-based fintech startup Finanshels came into being.

“At Finanshels, there are three problems we are trying to solve, the first being the high cost of hiring and training in-house finance experts that SMEs are often burdened with,” explains Muhammad Shafeekh, founder and CEO of Finanshels. “We thus plan to offer a dedicated finance team at affordable cost, and access to skilled finance professionals on demand. The second problem is that accounting requires sheer volume of data and paperwork, and it is human-intensive and error-prone with spreadsheets flying back and forth. This, we plan to solve by automating repetitive tasks, using application program interface (APIs) and machine learning (ML) that we built from the ground up. And finally, the third problem is that bookkeeping doesn’t start until the end of a month, with no real-time insights for founders to make decisions. Therefore, we offer integration with multiple data points and and daily bookkeeping, which provides real time insights to founders to make informed decisions.”

Launched in September 2022, Finanshels currently has over 200 customers, with this figure growing at a rate of 30% per month. “We have secured over 200 early adopters, and our minimum viable product (MVP) has been released, and it is being tested by enthusiastic customers,” Shafeekh says. “We also realize the digital revolution is in full swing, and SMEs in the MENA region are leading the charge. In fact, a staggering 87% of SMEs in MENA are already embracing digital technologies to accelerate their growth. This presents a significant opportunity for our startup, as there are 1.39 million SMEs in the GCC alone, representing a market worth over US$9.4 billion. Our startup is thus well-positioned to take advantage of this trend, and help SMEs succeed in the digital age.”

Related: Charting New Paths: Embracing The Entrepreneurial Boom In The UAE

Source: Finanshels

Aiming to position itself as the go-to all-in-one financial management platform for SMEs in the region, Finanshels is hoping to make the most of the digital shifts taking place within the ecosystem. “Our competitive advantage lies in offering automation, seamless integrations, and real-time data, which streamline financial management for SMEs,” Shafeekh says. “Coupled with a strong focus on innovation and exceptional customer service, we differentiate ourselves from traditional accounting solutions. The fundamentals of Finanshels is the rapid digital transformation, and the adoption of technology and innovation in the financial services sector, particularly in the GCC region. Based on the insights and feedback we gather from our initial UAE customer base, we will continue to refine and expand our product offerings.”

And in its journey towards achieving growth, Finanshels has found the right kind of support through its participation in the MBRIF Innovation Accelerator program. “The biggest advantage was the MBRIF’s capacity to develop and enhance the startup community comprehensively,” Shafeekh reveals. “It has not only provided us access to funding, but also facilitated engagement with industry experts, allowing continuous learning and utilization of their insights. Also, we got access to flexible funding options including equity investments, loans, and grants catering to diverse needs. The MBRIF acted like a platform for us that facilitates collaboration and partnerships with government entities and corporate organizations, creating opportunities for startups like ours to scale and thrive.”

Equipped with the support of the MBRIF, as well as with its own set of goals to work towards, Shafeekh says that his startup is gearing up for a promising journey ahead. “Despite the challenges we’ve faced, we remain fully committed to delivering a superior product and providing value to our customers,” he declares. “With the right team in place, we can optimize our product, develop new features, and stay ahead of the competition. Most importantly, we believe that by prioritizing product development, and pursuing strategic growth opportunities, we can overcome any obstacle, and achieve our vision for success.”

Related: Startup Spotlight: UAE-Based Egrobots Is Enabling Early Detection Of Crop Diseases In The MENA

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