Fintech startup Chari launches in Ivory Coast with acquisition of Diago

IVORY COAST – Chari, a Morocco-based B2B e-commerce and fintech startup, has acquired Diago, an Ivorian app that connects neighbourhood shops to FMCG producers and importers.

Founded in 2021 by Amidou Diarra and Ali Ouattara, Diago operates exclusively in Abidjan.

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Following the acquisition, Ali and Amidou will remain CEO and COO, respectively, and will oversee local business growth before expanding footprint to other Sub-Saharan countries.

“Diago’s entire team will receive Chari’s full support functions. Chari’s Casablanca back office will help Diago team in setting up operations, IT tools and customer service,” Cyrille Jacques, vice president of Chari in charge of leading international expansion, said.

Chari, founded by Ismael Belkhayat and Sophia Alj, is an e-commerce platform for grocery stores in Francophone Africa.

The company partners with FMCG multinationals and local manufacturers to distribute their goods to mom-and-pop shops in less than 24 hours. It also provides payment facilities and financial services through its recent acquisition of Karny.ma.

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After a successful proof of concept in Morocco, Chari aspires to become the leader of this business model in Francophone Africa.

“The secret of a successful expansion is to build a local team that masters local market dynamics,” Belkhayat said.

“The real challenge is to convince local entrepreneurs to join forces with Chari to grow faster. We continue to surround ourselves with young and ambitious entrepreneurs from Francophone Africa to build together a pan-African giant of FMCG and financial services distribution.”

In March the retail-tech company acquired Axa Credit, the credit branch of Axa Assurance Maroc, for US$22 million.

The deal offered Chari the credit license needed to start issuing loans to its FMCG B2B clients who can then lend money to their consumer clients.

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Prior to that, the company undertook a bridge funding round led by the Saudi-based venture capital fund Khwarizmi Ventures (KV), AirAngels (Airbnb Alumni Investors), and Afri Mobility, the venture capital arm of AKWA Group.

The bridge funding round followed its US$5m seed round in October 2021, along with the acquisition of Karny.ma, a Moroccan ledger book that had more than fifty thousand active users.

Acquisition of the credit book app Karny.ma gave Chari valuable data on the loans given by grocery stores to their customers.

This allows it to credit-assess the unbanked shop owners and determine the most fitting payment terms given to each.

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