Fulfill Your Canadian Dreams: Startup Raises $40Mn to Fund Move

Canadian startup Passage funding

Talented Students and Professionals to Get Funding Support for their Canada Move

For all the talented students and professionals around the world, who wish to move to Canada but are constrained due to lack of financing, there is good news. A start-up in Canada, Passage Inc, has raised $40Mn in venture funding to help in your dream.

The startup will not only help aspiring students, but it will also help promising professionals working in the areas where Canada needs immigrants. International professionals in sectors like healthcare and technology can seek help in funding their career move to Canada. The company believes it can address multiple challenges simultaneously: providing promising individuals with increased earning potential abroad, assisting the Canadian government in meeting immigration targets, alleviating talent shortages, and driving economic growth.

In an interview, Martin Basiri, Founder of Passage, emphasized that talent is distributed evenly worldwide, but opportunities are not. Having personally relied on a scholarship to study in Canada, his objective is to identify bright students from developing nations who aspire to work in STEM fields, healthcare, and other skill-shortage areas. Passage is developing a comprehensive “super app” that will enable these students to digitally apply for educational or employment opportunities in Canada. Additionally, the app will connect them with lenders and grant providers willing to finance their journeys. As a pilot program, Basiri is investing his own funds to support 100 women from Afghanistan in pursuing STEM studies in Canada.

Martin Basiri, originally from Iran, arrived in Canada in 2010 to pursue his engineering studies at the University of Waterloo. Getting to know the complexities foreign students face during the university application process, he, along with his two brothers, established ApplyBoard Inc to help students simplify the application process. This company from the Kitchener Waterloo region quickly gained prominence and became one of the most successful and highly valued startups in Ontario. However, for Martin Basiri, ApplyBoard was just the beginning.

Basiri stepped down as CEO of Applyboard in August, passing the reins to his younger brother. He established Passage in February, driven by a desire to enhance accessibility for talented individuals from the developing world beyond what ApplyBoard could achieve.

He unveiled his latest venture, Passage Inc., at the Collision technology conference in Toronto. Passage has secured $40 million in funding, led by Drive Capital, a supporter of ApplyBoard. While ApplyBoard primarily assisted affluent foreign students in gaining admission to Western universities, Basiri’s vision for Passage is to extend the same opportunities to talented individuals in developing countries who lack financial resources.

Drive Capital partner Nick Solaro, whose Columbus, Ohio-based fund has backed several education technology startups, said in a statement:

We are making an investment in Canada’s future by backing Passage to address “a socio-economic crisis” as thousands of jobs go unfilled. Passage will serve the best talent in the world – while also serving Canada.

Passage, currently with fewer than 10 employees, is constructing its digital platform, refining its strategy, and formulating a revenue generation plan. However, Basiri remains focused on creating a positive impact rather than immediate financial gains. He firmly believes that when significant problems are solved, financial support naturally follows.

While targeting prospective immigrants and developing software may appear relatively straightforward, the primary challenge for Passage lies in securing financial partners to fund foreign applicants. Basiri acknowledges that obtaining funding from institutions is the most difficult aspect and has been the subject of scrutiny from potential investors. To succeed, he aims to convince financial institutions to support newcomers based not only on their credit profiles in their home countries but also on their future earning potential in Canada. Basiri’s confidence in achieving this lies in his emphasis on data analytics, through which Passage can identify the most promising students with high-earning prospects.

Basiri has engaged with numerous entities in the Canadian financial services sector, including major banks and charitable organizations, although he refrains from providing further details. While banks have already developed immigrant-targeted programs, recognizing the future influx of immigrant clients, Basiri asserts that Passage addresses a distinct gap by assisting individuals who have embarked on their Canadian journey but have yet to arrive. Passage aims to provide opportunities to those who have never had such prospects before.

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