Egypt: fintech, e-commerce and telehealth secure top funding in Q3

Investors are not interested in sectors impacted by COVID-19. However, there is an appetite for business that address the new normal

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. E-commerce has been among the top invested industries in Saudi Arabia and the entire MENA region historically.

Image used for illustrative purpose. E-commerce has been among the top invested industries in Saudi Arabia and the entire MENA region historically.

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After several months of COVID-19-related economic uncertainty, investors seem to be embracing the new normal in Q3 by resuming the deployment of capital in promising business models.

“Three months ago, [investors] were in a state of shock and panic and stopped deployment of capital to a very large extent,” said Mariam Kamel, a manager at AUC Angels, a university-based investment network. “This is gone now. People are more open to explore opportunities. […] there is an appetite for businesses that address the new normal.”

A quick glance at the Egypt’s startup ecosystem in the third quarter shows that fintech, telehealth and e-commerce businesses have the lion’s share of funding deals.

PAYMOB

In August, Paymob, a digital payment provider, announced that it had raised $ 3.5 million in an investment round led by Global Ventures and the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank FMO, with a follow-on investment by A15. Established in 2015, Paymob has eight key partners, including telecom operators, banks and non-banking financial institutions. The company’s founders say that Paymob processes more than 85 percent of the mobile wallet transactions in Egypt and has already established itself as the no. 1 online payment gateway in terms of number of merchants.

Paymob also serves merchants in Pakistan, Jordan and Kenya. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the company has witnessed a drastic increase of 450 percent in merchant on-boarding. “In the midst of this economic situation, we are at a very good spot to help the digital economy foster more, and the funding we have received came in place to help us do that,” Paymob co-founder Alain El-Hajj told Zawya. The founders plan to use the funding “to empower the massively underserved SMEs with improved and more accessible digital payments offerings” and to accelerate Paymob’s regional expansion in Africa and the GCC.

FATURA

In July, Fatura, a B2B e-commerce platform that connects wholesalers and fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers with small retailers, secured a seven-digital investment. The founders said that the round was led by Egypt’s nascent fintech-focused VC, Disruptech. Cairo Angels and EFG EV have also joined the round.

“The FMCG supply chain in Egypt is very complex and very immature when it comes to technology,” said Hossam Ali, Fatura’s co-founder and CEO. “This causes critical issues for all its stakeholders, including retailers, wholesalers and FMCG manufacturers” Fatura’s solution is a mobile application that offers retailers a one-stop-shop with more than 1,500 SKUs, provides wholesalers with a wider outreach, and offers FMCG manufacturers necessary market intelligence, Ali added.

“The money will be primarily allocated towards customer acquisition and expanding across Greater Cairo and the Delta as well as developing our technology offering through AI algorithms and advanced analytics,” he said. Fatura plans to use AI to broaden Egypt’s (presently) small client base in microfinancing. Ali said that they have already built the technology necessary to create a credit algorithm system for grocery stores who are using their app. Fatura plans to launch its financing service by the end of 2020, after the completion of an ongoing pilot-testing phase.

ELVES

An AI-assisted concierge app, Elves announced in mid-September that it had closed a $2 million investment round. The funds were extended by Sawari Ventures, one of Egypt’s leading VCs. With this deal, the three-year-old startup has completed a seed funding worth $ 5 million. According to CEO and founder Karim Elsahy, Elves has just embarked on its series-A financing stage hoping to raise another $ 10 million.

Founded in 2017, Elves is a tech-driven digital assistant platform using a “human in the loop” methodology to drive machine learning to build “Alexa Skills”. Elves offers a range of services, from booking a flight to buying groceries. So far, the application has secured one million downloads, mostly by Egypt-based users. 

The latest investment round came in two tranches, Elsahy told Zawya. The first tranche, deployed in February, was used to build a larger “world-class” machine learning team. With the second tranche, which came in July, Elves is expected to move ahead with the launch of a grocery marketplace that will host at least 40 different stores.

“We had to make some hard-and-fast decisions about where we would focus the business in a COVID/post-COVID world,” said Elsahy, “since large parts of our existing revenues were coming from flight bookings, hotel reservations, concerts [and] cinema tickets, and those industries were basically shut down. We shifted rapidly to a focus on what people would need most while they were confined to their homes,” said Elsahy.

ROLOGY

Also, in September, Egypt’s teleradiology startup Rology announced that it had raised $860,000 in a Pre-Series A investment round led by Egyptian VC HIMangel and joined by Dubai Angel Investors (DAI), Japan’s Asia Africa Investment & Consulting (AAIC) and Saudi’s Athaal group. The new investment takes Rology’s total raise to $1 million. Founded in December 2017, Rology is a B2B digital on-demand platform that connects healthcare providers with radiologists, who are in short supply globally.

Rology also harnesses AI in pattern matchmaking, diagnosing COVID-19 using chest CT scans, helping radiologists make faster diagnosis and reviewing medical reports. So far, Rology has 52 active radiologists, mostly Egyptian, who serve 84 hospitals in Egypt, 3 in Saudi Arabia, 3 in Kenya, 2 in Iraq and 1 in Palestinian territories.  The startup will use the investment primarily to ramp up its growth in Saudi Arabia and Kenya. “We will be using the funding mostly for business development, because each new market we enter needs their own marketing and sales teams,” Rology’s CEO and co-founder Amr Abodraia told Zawya.

ELGAMEYA

In August, Egyptian fintech firm ElGameya secured a six-figure investment in a pre-seed round led by AUC Angels. Cairo Angels and Alex Angels also joined this round of investment. Founded in 2018, ElGameya is a mobile application that facilitates the management and collection of money circles referred to as rotating credit and savings associations (ROSCA). Users can either use ElGameya as a platform to digitize their private money circles or be matched with users who have similar saving or lending capabilities in a public circle. ElGameya’s app also features a built-in marketplace that enables users to access discounted products. “We are targeting the Egyptian unbanked middle class at a time where the government is encouraging financial inclusion,” Ahmed Mahmoud, ElGameya’s founder and CEO, told Zawya. “The funds will help us acquire more users, launch more money circles, do more marketing and add more features to our application so that it can become more user-friendly.”

(Writing by Noha El Hennawy; editing by Seban Scaria seban.scaria@refinitiv.com)

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