Egypt's startups that got the highest funding in November

E-commerce startups have secured the lion's share of deals last month; however, food logistics and e-sports are still of high relevance

  
Businesswoman holding tablet in office with colleague in background. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Businesswoman holding tablet in office with colleague in background. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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With the global pandemic entering its tenth month in Egypt, e-commerce businesses continue to attract investors who see tremendous opportunities in a highly populated society that is suddenly transitioning to online shopping. E-commerce startups have secured the lion's share of deals last month; however, food logistics and e-sports are still of high relevance. Here is a list of the top deals in November.

BRANTU

As soon as November kicked in, Brantu, an online fashion marketplace, announced that it had raised a seven-digit dollar figure in a series-A round led by Sawari Ventures, one of Egypt's most prominent venture capital funds. The 14-month-old platform enables Egyptian consumers to shop for women's assortments, manufactured by mostly local brands but also a few international brands such as Converse, Levi's, Tally Weijl, OVS and Etam. Brantu took off in July 2019 with only three brands, but soon enough the company acquired nearly 80 brands and more than 20,000 users.

"Brantu is easily the best example of the tremendous acceleration in digital adoption that we have witnessed across all sectors during the pandemic," Wael Amin, Partner at Sawari Ventures, said in a press release. According to Brantu's co-founder Mohamed Rizk, his marketplace has an edge over international and cross-border websites, which have to deal with issues of long delivery times and customs.

Brantu is planning on using recent funds to broaden its customer base and to introduce men's and kids' assortments. "We aim to grow and become the favorite online shopping marketplace wherever we operate," Rizk told Zawya. "We aim to acquire a 30 percent market share of the online fashion and lifestyle sector purchases in Egypt and other emerging markets."

EXPANDCART

On November 22, ExpandCart, a Cairo-based e-commerce and retail platform, announced that it secured an investment of $2.5 million in a series-A round, also led by Sawari Ventures. Agility Ventures, Graphene Ventures, and two undisclosed angel investors have also contributed to this round. ExpandCart was founded in 2013 to provide e-commerce solutions that would allow businesses to build their own online stores. The company claims to be the largest e-commerce platform in the Middle East, with more than 20,000 merchants from over 40 countries.

"During the pandemic we had the opportunity to help thousands of merchants continue their business online," Amr Shawqy, CEO and cofounder, told Zawya adding that they had enjoyed two- to three-fold growth in number of users and revenues, and an average of almost four- to five-fold growth in grand merchandise value since April 2020.

With the latest round of investments, ExpandCart's total raise has amounted to $3 million. The company plans to use the recent funds to develop new solutions that will reduce the gap between online and offline commerce and help merchants use omni-channel commerce in their business using highly integrated tools, Shawky said.

WUILT

Wuilt, an Arabic-website builder, has recently raised $535,000 in a seed round, which included the UK-based Technology Fund, the Saudi-based DAAL VC, Egyptian Flat6Labs and other angel investors from the MENA region. Launched in 2019, Wuilt founders caters to businesses as well as individuals who want to build their own professional websites.

"We came across many friends and businesses [that] struggled to get a professional website designed [according] to their style and especially in Arabic. This motivated us as a team to bridge this gap by providing a solution," said CEO Ahmed Rostom. With more businesses forced to switch to e-commerce following the pandemic, Wuilt has witnessed a spike in the number of users seeking to launch their own websites without having to spend too much money to web development agencies.

So far, the company has attracted more than 30,000 users in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia and raised a total of $ 635,000. Founders plan to use the new funds to launch an Arabic-supported e-commerce platform and expand their operations in Saudi Arabia, which already houses nearly 30 percent of the company's users.

ILLA

Besides e-commerce, food logistics are rising as a potential arena full of unexplored opportunities. On November 3, ILLA, a delivery logistics platform for fast-moving consumer goods, announced that it raised a six-figure dollar seed fund. The investment round was led by Averroes Ventures, AUC Angels and a consortium of local and regional angel investors with follow-on funding from Flat6Labs Cairo. The new funds take ILLA's total raise to $650,000.

Founded in March 2019, ILLA provides customized delivery solutions to FMCG big corporations as well as SMEs. "We are looking into disrupting the FMCGs logistics in the MEA region [by] enabling our clients to deliver their products across their journey from plant to shelf, with minimal cost per case and the highest quality and visibility, using technology and on-ground operational intelligence," Mohamed Emera, Director of Growth, told Zawya.

So far, the company has delivered more than seven million cases across Egypt. Besides local companies, ILLA also serves multinationals including Coca-Cola, P&G, Nestle and PepsiCo. The new funds are expected to help ILLA enhance its technology, achieve further local expansion, and enter regional markets.

EKSAB

Also in November, Eksab, a daily fantasy sports platform, secured an investment of $500,000 from Africa-focused 4DX Ventures and other key sports and entertainment investors. The company has so far raised total funds worth $600,000. By signing up to Eksab platform, users can join both free and paid football competitions and also bet on live international football games.

"Users pay to compete with each other and with their friends, and we take a management fee in the form on a percentage of the total entry fees," co-founder and CEO Aly Mahmoud told Zawya. The three-year-old company aims to introducing the famous multi-billion business model of US-based DraftKings and India-based Dream11 to the Middle East and Africa.

"With regards to our most recent investment, we plan on building out our core team, developing our product, and growing our user base," he added. The company hopes to reach out to the region's football fans, who are estimated to number in the millions.

(Reporting by Noha El Hennawy; editing by Seban Scaria)

(seban.scaria@refinitiv.com)

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