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Maya Apa Raises New Funding From BRAC, Aims To Become The On-demand Information Service In Bangladesh

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Feb 14, 2017

Maya Apa, the Dhaka-based tech startup that pivoted from its earlier women-focused content platform to become an on-demand information service, has raised an investment of BDT 4 crore from BRAC, the number one NGO in the world, at an undisclosed valuation. The company has also added Asif Saleh, Senior Director, Strategy, Communications, and Empowerment of BRAC and BRAC international to Maya board.

Previously Maya received a grant from BRAC through its Gender Justice and Diversity department, to further develop the platform and reach more users.

Maya originally started as a content-based women-focused platform in 2009. Founded by Ivy Huq Russell, a former investment banker, the earlier iteration of the platform wanted to “empower women through access to information and a shared community.” However, the startup has recently pivoted to a more general but pragmatic direction and now describes itself as “a knowledge sharing/messaging platform available on Android, Web, and WAP”.

It has recently partnered with Robi and launched a premium messaging service named ‘May Apa Plus’. Under the collaboration, users can now avail Maya's on-demand information service about health, psycho-social and legal through SMS.

Takeaways:

  • Maya was originally started as a platform for women. However, with this new iteration, the platform has become finally gender agnostic.
  • From a more content and media style platform, it has become a messaging platform where users can get into a conversation with vetted experts
  • The company plans to become a source of on-demand information solution for health, psycho-social and legal issues. Users can ask queries and get responses from ‘vetted experts’ appointed by Maya through SMS, now only available for Robi users, android device and also on its website.
  • It currently claims to serve over 500 queries a day and is growing at a 10% MoM rate
  • Users, both men and women, can ask questions in Bangla and English.

The new iteration of Maya sounds more interesting than its previous version of a mere website-based content platform. That said, the success of Maya will largely depend on how it approaches the said problem, “the barriers to accessing reliable advice and information in a world where information is freely available and it seems the organization of information is the problem.

Update on Feb 15, 2017: This story has been updated with funding data and other relevant information.


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