Freely Seeks to Expand Product Features with Catalyst Grant

February 5, 2024


Arlington announced that it awarded $225K to five Arlington-based startup companies as part of the Arlington Innovation Fund (AIF) Catalyst Grant Program. The Catalyst Grant Program is a tool to help increase funding for early-stage technology startups through technical assistance and non-dilutive, co-investment grants ranging from $25,000 – $50,000.

Freely Payments, LLC, one of the grantees, is a Fintech company that empowers vendors and suppliers to accept credit card payments from their customers without paying processing costs. They achieve this through collaborations with financial partners, including Mastercard, to increase credit card adoption in underserved industries. We spoke with Ahmed Nawash, Founder and CEO, to tell us more about the company and how they plan to use their grant.

Tell us about your company and how it will innovate your respective industry?

Ahmed: At Freely, we're revolutionizing the B2B payments landscape in the Food and Beverage industry. Historically, accepting credit cards in this space has incurred steep processing expenses, eroding already slim profit margins for food distributors. Our innovative payment acceptance gateway addresses this challenge by enabling food distributors to accept credit card payments from their restaurants at the lowest processing cost possible.

Powered by intelligent interchange routing, our proprietary technology ensures that payments are processed efficiently, sometimes even offering a revenue share back to the food vendor. With decades of experience crafting B2B payment solutions tailored to the needs of SME to Fortune 500 businesses, we bring deep insights and hands-on experience to the table, shaping our approach to meet the unique challenges and opportunities of this vertical.

How will grant funding from the Arlington Innovation Fund impact your growth plans?

Ahmed: Grant funding from the Arlington Innovation Fund will have a profound impact on our growth plans at Freely. With a commitment to keeping our employee base local in Arlington, we aim to build a strong startup culture and sense of purpose within the community. The funds from the Arlington grant will enable us to enhance additional features and functionalities on our roadmap that our clients are eager for, complementing the core of our system, which prioritizes safe, secure, quick, seamless, and intelligent payment processing. In a rapidly evolving technological landscape, the grant will empower us to remain at the forefront of innovation in the payments industry, driving positive change and delivering exceptional value to our clients and the local economy.

How long has your company been in Arlington and what made you choose Arlington as a place to do business?

Ahmed: Both my co-founder and I moved to Arlington to help lead payments for other startups who have thrived within the area. With its proximity to D.C., thriving business community and amazing culture I found it a great change up from the quieter pace of the Midwest. I couldn’t think of a better place to call home for Freely.

 There is such a great source of talent when it comes to innovation thanks to all of the great universities around, which as many founders understand, is the lifeblood of any company trying to change an industry and develop cutting-edge technology. We have already tapped into countless programs that exist to help businesses thrive like the ICAPP program that is provided by George Mason University and of course AIF as well! Arlington provides the ideal ecosystem for our growth and success.

Arlington also awarded grant funding to four other Arlington startups: Dispatchr Technologies, LLCGenLogs Corporation, Phalanx and Seamless Transition.

Applications for the second cohort of Catalyst Grantees are now open and close on March 10, 2024. For more information about the Arlington Innovation Fund and/or to apply for the next round of funding, please visit