WAKE FOREST — Karma Wallet is gearing up for big things in 2024.
The company wrapped up 2023 with an SEC filing in December, and according to a recent press release, raised $2 million from multiple investors, including the local Tweener Fund. Now they’re putting that money to work.
The company plans to offer financial tools with an eye toward sustainability and supporting mission-driven businesses. Its first move is the release of a reloadable, pre-paid debit card, expected next month. Company co-founder Kedar Karkare is enthusiastic about the value for consumers.
“You can spend [money] just like any other card,” explained Karkare, “then when you spend, you can see the impact that your money is creating. And you can also get really unique and exclusive cashback rewards from ethical and sustainable companies.”
Karma Wallet aligns spending with values
While this is the first major consumer product from the company, Karma Wallet established itself with data. The Karma Wallet website offers a database with assessments of more than 17,500 companies – so far – including ratings and scores based on each company’s environmental and social consciousness.
Individuals and businesses are increasingly considering social and environmental factors when making their purchasing and partnership decisions. According to a recent study from Bain & Co., consumers are willing to pay 12% more, on average, for sustainable products. And this isn’t just Gen Z. While 72% of Gen Z consumers said they were “very or extremely” concerned about the environment, that number came in only slightly lower at 68% for Boomers.
Karma Wallet was started by Karkare and his father, Jayant Khadilkar, as they were seeking ways to verify their own conscious spending. To fill this gap, the Karma Wallet team considers nearly 40 different data sources, including nonprofit assessments, public ratings and certifications. They also look at each company’s self-reported data, as well as media coverage.
“And then the work that we do is really taking all of this disparate data and just making it easy to understand as a consumer,” said Karkare. “So, what is this company doing good or bad out there in the world?”
These insights are incredibly valuable, but this is not what Karma Wallet sells.
“My personal perspective certainly is that this data should be a right for consumers to access,” said Karkare. “We don’t ever want to charge directly for the data.”
The company’s revenue instead stems from licensing the data to other companies, and from the emerging financial products. In its own efforts to endorse responsible businesses, Karma Wallet is also partnering with companies that want to work with them to provide offerings for this and future financial tools.
“We’re building a community of brands that offer these exclusive rewards to conscious consumers,” explained Karkare. “That community of brands we call the Karma Collective.”
Spending as a tool for change in the world
While the data is an important piece of the Karma Wallet’s foundation, it ultimately seeks to be a new kind of financial company. Karkare is a big believer that consumers should have visibility into what their money is doing, and be able to achieve and track the social and environmental impact of the companies they spend with.
“Our intention is to create a financial system where you can not only grow your personal wealth, but actually use your money as a tool for change in the world, based on the organizations and the companies and the brands that you support.”
While the pre-paid debit card is the only confirmed product to date, Karkare hopes that Karma Wallet will be able to offer a full range of financial instruments in the future. The most recent funding will support for launch of the pre-paid debit card, with additional fundraising anticipated for later this year.
The pre-paid debit card launches for beta testing later this month, and the company anticipates broader access beginning in February. Interested consumers can get on the waitlist on the company website, which also hosts tools for searching, filtering, and comparing companies’ social and environmental ratings.