EGYPT – Cartona, an Egyptian B2B ecommerce platform, has closed a US$12 million Series A round led by Silicon Badia, a venture capital firm that invests in global technology entrepreneurs.
The seed round saw active participation of the SANAD Fund for MSME, an impact investment fund dedicated to assisting entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa.
Arab Bank Accelerator and Sunny Side Ventures joined previous investors Global Ventures and Kepple Ventures.
The proceeds will be utilised to accelerate Cartona’s expansion across Egypt, covering all governorates, expanding its product, technology, and services, and exploring new verticals outside of FMCG.
“We are delighted to complete our Series A fundraise. The market context for Cartona is hugely attractive, and we are just getting started. Egypt has hundreds of thousands of mom-and-pop stores who are core to our business model,” Mahmoud Talaat, CEO and co-founder of Cartona, said.
“We will continue empowering them via efficient and seamless solutions in their trade and financial cycle with FMCG companies and wholesalers, aligning with our mission to help people better manage and control their businesses.”
Cartona, which was founded in 2019, is digitising Egypt’s conventional commerce market, which includes mom-and-pop retailers, FMCG makers, wholesalers, and distributors.
The startup is committed to the idea of a cashless future, investing in embedded finance, payments, and operational integration with all stakeholders.
This provides merchants and suppliers with an integrated solution that increases financial inclusion and allows them to run and expand their businesses more efficiently while also reaching end-consumers with vital products at affordable costs.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Cartona team to help them continue to disrupt the US$120 billion Egyptian retail market through its B2B technology platform and embedded financial service offerings,” Namek T. Zu’bi, Founding Managing Partner at Silicon Badia, said.
“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.”
Cartona’s Egyptian market prospect is attractive. The total retail market is about US$120 billion, with the Food and Beverage market around US$70 billion. Egypt has over 400K shops and thousands of international and local brands, with the sector developing at an annual rate of 8%.
“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,” Dr. Daniela Beckmann, SANAD Board Chairperson added.
“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.”
Cartona’s business model is asset-light, as it does not own a single product, warehouse, or vehicle. This enables Cartona to carry out its plan of digitising Egypt’s conventional, primarily offline commerce industry by removing inefficiencies along the supply chain and providing seamless financial services to an underserved network of hundreds of thousands of merchants.
In September last year, Cartona closed a US$4.5 million Pre-Series A funding round to help it invest in new technology, launch new products and expand across the country.
The funding round was led by Global Ventures, a Dubai-based, international venture capital firm, with participation from Kepple Africa Ventures, T5 Ventures and a group of angel investors.
Proceeds was to be used to invest in deepening the capabilities of the technology to further enhance the user experience and introduce embedded finance within the product and order cycle. Cartona also plans to expand its operations across Egypt.