Celebrating 10 Years of Pioneers: Klaim, on community as a catalyst for innovation

Contributed by: Karim Dakki, Founding Partner and Chief Executive Officer at Klaim, and Ghafoor Ahmad, Founding Partner, and Chief Revenue Officer at Klaim.

In the spirit of our ongoing ten-year celebration, we are catching up with our innovative community to look back at the past decade of shared trials and triumphs. Today, we dive into Klaim’s trajectory and the prospects of Healthtech in the region with Karim Dakki, Founding Partner and Chief Executive Officer at Klaim, and Ghafoor Ahmad, Founding Partner, and Chief Revenue Officer at Klaim.

Klaim originated from a conversation at the AstroLabs coworking space in the UAE, one of the reasons why we think very dearly of AstroLabs. Ghafoor used to run a healthcare revenue cycle management out of that space. He was chatting with a coworker about medical billing when Karim, who was close by, overheard the conversation and jumped in to learn more about medical billing.

This casual chat sparked an idea and evolved into a sophisticated claim funding platform for healthcare providers. Klaim has expanded to Saudi Arabia and Oman, with plans to broaden our scope beyond the MENA region.

We have experienced firsthand the impact of a supportive community. The AstroLabs coworking facilities are home to a great number of professionals with a focused entrepreneurial mindset. You encounter many like-minded individuals, toss around ideas, and share insightful data. Early-stage entrepreneurs can benefit from the knowledge and experience of seasoned entrepreneurs.

It is a winning combination. AstroLabs laid the groundwork for us to think big, and we put in the effort so that our spark of an idea could evolve into Klaim.

Our idea was to find a way to make life easier for healthcare providers. It is an essential sector that impacts everyone, so we devised a solution to streamline access to cash for professionals in this particular industry.

Our platform grants these essential SMEs access to funds within 24 hours, a feat that is not as readily available through banks or traditional financing institutions. Klaim also reduces the endless back-and-forth that can occur in these processes.

We have witnessed a lot of SMEs in the sector come dangerously close to bankruptcy, especially around the time when COVID-19 was hindering growth. Better accessibility and smoother processes allowed our clients to find their footing again and come out of the pandemic stronger than ever, serving the community with renewed motivation. We support SMEs because there is no doubt that these companies are the backbone of the economy, and play a vital role in employment.

As a startup, we can relate to these SMEs, because startups regularly face similar challenges. It is difficult for a startup to secure funding or projects from government entities and financing companies, who favor larger corporations when it comes to innovative solutions. It usually is an uphill battle for a startup to earn the trust of such entities, having to prove itself as a valuable asset for the ecosystem so it can be taken seriously as an agent of digital development.

The ecosystem in MENA, especially in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, has made long strides in accommodating and utilizing the drive and ambition of startups to build novel digital infrastructures. Of course there is a lot of work to be done still, not in the startup ecosystem, but those around it, to ensure a better connectedness for these up-and-coming businesses.

One of the challenges we faced as a MENA-based startup overcoming the complexities of setting up a business and expanding in the region. Opening a bank account in the UAE, for example, proved to be quite a challenge, and it took a lot of effort and time to acquire a commercial license in Saudi Arabia.

It is a lengthy and intricate process, so it is important to have a local partner by your side to guide you through all the interlinked steps, especially in the initial and early phases. Thankfully, we were able to navigate the incorporation phase with AstroLabs’ support, especially Abdullah AlDhubaie who continues to guide us through post-incorporation procedures.

By successfully setting up and operating in MENA, we learned that it is a playing field packed with opportunities if one can understand the market needs. Businesses like Klaim, who know what pain points need to be addressed in this particular region, should build themselves up gradually by establishing a company first, then grow through funding in order to solve the ecosystem’s problems.

Startups hailing from outside the region, on the other hand, would do well to start small and limit their costs until they find their footing. A small team operating from a coworking space is a great place to start for these businesses.

The unique ecosystem of the AstroLabs coworking space is built around community, and it certainly provides a basis for smart entrepreneurial decisions. Another benefit of this fertile environment is of course the many training sessions and networking events held there. We have interacted with Roland Daher, CEO at AstroLabs, and through his support we were able to explore numerous opportunities we might have missed out on otherwise.

But ultimately, it is up to the entrepreneurs themselves to push their ideas forward. This mindset is essential for growth; even if the environment is conducive and fertile, you have to take the initiative yourself to reap the rewards.

This is an exciting time for entrepreneurs in the region. Digital adoption, innovative programs and government initiatives are at an all time high, and we believe that, ten years from now, a great number of unicorns will emerge from MENA and cater to global markets.

We are grateful to be a part of this impactful change that startups are leading, and while we are not at cruising altitude yet, we are determined to keep rising through the turbulence and climb even higher.