SANAD acquires shares in the Egyptian B2B platform Cartona to empower Egyptian MSMEs through digital growth
Cartona leverages technology to drive financial inclusion as Egypt’s retail sector rapidly grows
Luxembourg, 25 July 2022 – The Equity sub-Fund II (ESF II) of the SANAD Fund for MSME (SANAD) has invested in Cartona, a leading B2B platform connecting the Egyptian retailers with suppliers digitally. The Series A fundraise of USD 12 million was led by Silicon Badia, a venture capital firm investing in global technology entrepreneurs, together with the active participation of SANAD. The fundraising round will position Cartona to boost its expansion across Egypt, enabling it to grow its product, technology, and services to reach more micro and small retailers.
Cartona provides retailers and suppliers with an integrated, digital marketplace solution enabling them to run and grow their business more efficiently and reach the end-consumers with essential products at affordable prices. It provides an embedded finance solution to its retailers allowing them to source goods on credit, which the SANAD Technical Assistance Facility is supporting by optimizing the entire process from origination to repayments. Cartona’s asset-light model allows the company to execute its strategy of digitizing Egypt’s traditional, largely offline trade market - thereby driving financial inclusion across Egypt’s growing retail sector using technological solutions and enabling seamless financial services to an underserved network of hundreds of thousands of shops.
Cartona has grown rapidly since its inception, and currently processes around 1 million transactions annually. The company has 60,000 users and works with 200 FMCG companies – including blue-chip names like Henkel, Unilver, Bel, and Mondelez – as well as 1,500 distributors and wholesalers. SANAD’s investment into the company came at a critical time during Cartona’s expansion, enabling the company to also support more rural entrepreneurs.
Mahmoud Talaat, CEO and co-founder of Cartona, commented: “We are delighted to complete our Series A fundraise in the current market conditions. The endorsement of new investors and re-participation of existing investors is a validation to the appropriate path we are pursuing of a capital-efficient asset light business model that is focused on enabling all stakeholders in the industry, boosting operational efficiency, and underpinned by strong unit economics.”
“The market context for Cartona is hugely attractive, and I believe we are just getting started. Egypt has hundreds of thousands of mom-and-pop stores who are core to our business model. We will continue empowering them through efficient and seamless solutions in their trade and financial cycle with FMCG companies and wholesalers, which aligns with our mission to help people better manage and control their businesses.”
Dr. Daniela Beckmann, SANAD Board Chairperson, stated: “We are incredibly proud of this transaction as it is the first investment of SANAD ESF II in Egypt, continuing the success of ESF I investments made in the country. By providing both financing and a software tailored to the market, Cartona’s digital platform is supporting innovative MSME retailers across Egypt, which will greatly contribute to SANAD’s mission of pursuing growth and employment creation across the region.”
Namek T. Zu’bi, Founding Managing Partner at Silicon Badia, said: “We are thrilled to partner with the Cartona team to help them continue to disrupt the USD 120 billion Egyptian retail market through its B2B technology platform and embedded financial service offerings. The market is hungry for these types of solutions, and we believe Cartona’s asset-light approach will allow them to serve as many marketplace participants as possible in a highly efficient manner."
The SANAD Fund for MSME finances micro, small, and medium enterprises and low-income households in the Middle East and North Africa and selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa via qualified local lenders. SANAD thereby fosters economic development and job creation – including youth employment – agriculture, affordable housing, and innovations in finance and financial technologies. SANAD strives to meet these goals by providing debt and equity financing to its local partners. The SANAD Technical Assistance Facility multiplies the fund’s development impact and outreach through capacity-building with partner institutions, developing financial infrastructures according to the principles of responsible finance and conducting much required R&D.
An impact investment fund advised by Finance in Motion, SANAD’s investors include the KfW Development Bank, which initiated the fund; the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); the European Union; Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO); OeEB, the Development Bank of Austria; Germany’s GLS Bank and GLS Treuhand; the Dutch development bank FMO; and Calvert Impact Capital.
Cartona is one of the fastest growing B2B e-commerce marketplaces in Egypt. Streamlining the distribution process, we directly connect retailers with suppliers, wholesalers, and producing companies. Through Cartona, retailers can browse, compare, and order their merchandise, saving time, money, and effort in their daily operations.
For more information about Cartona, please visit: www.cartona.com
About Silicon Badia
Silicon Badia is a venture capital group that invests in technology startups globally. With offices in the US and the Middle East region, Silicon Badia has partnered with over 80 technology startups in over 15 different industries and over 15 different cities worldwide.
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