Moroccan retailtech startup Chari.ma raises US$5m to spearhead expansion plan

MOROCCO – Chari.ma, a Moroccan B2B e-commerce platform that fashions retailers with suppliers has raised US$5 million in the largest venture funding round in the country this year and among the biggest-ever seed funding rounds in the North African nation.

The funding round was jointly led by Rocket Internet, Global Founders Capital and P1 Ventures with participations from Plug and Play, Y Combinator, Village Capital, MetLife Foundation, Orange Digital Ventures, Air Angels, SPE Capital, Pincus Private Equity and Reflect Ventures.

The Chandaria family, Propertyfinder CEO and founder Michael Lahyani, and the management company of an American Ivy League university also joined the round.

The startup was founded by the husband-wife duo of Ismael Belkhayat and Sophia Alj in January 2020.

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It directly connects store owners and retailers to wholesalers in the FMCG sector. The startup seeks to addresses the procurement issues of the 300,000 grocery stores of Morocco and Tunisia.

Chari partners with FMCG multinationals and local manufacturers to distribute their goods to local mom and pop shops in less than 24 hours.

It also provides payment facilities and financial services through the recent acquisition of Karny.ma.

Karny.ma. is a telephone credit book allowing traditional local businesses to manage their outstanding customers.

Available on Google Play, the application allows them to simply record their transactions on their phone, share them with their debtors and thus more easily collect their loans.

The money it has raised now will be used to expand Chari and Karny to its neighbouring countries Tunisia and Algeria and further to French-speaking African countries such as Ivory Coast, Senegal, Cameroon, and Mauritania.

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In addition, Chari.ma plans to embed financial services such as digital payment, money transfer and buy-now-pay-later in its product roadmap.

This is the first time many of these investors, including Global Founders Capital, Plug and Play, Orange Digital Ventures and Village Capital, have invested in a startup in Morocco.

According to Chari.ma, it took four weeks to close the full seed round that values it at US$70 million.

“We have carefully selected the VCs of this seed round based on their ability to help us build a great business. We are now focusing on achieving our short-term targets to raise a significant Series A in six to nine months,” said Belkhayat, the startup’s CEO.

Chari.ma had previously disclosed raising funding from Y Combinator, Plug and Play and Orange Digital Ventures.

The company was incubated within the family holding H&S Invest Holding before joining the ranks of STATION F in Paris. It is currently used by more than 10,000 grocery stores in Morocco.

Morocco has seen a little over half a dozen startups get venture funding this year, as per data collated by The Capital Quest. Most of the venture deals in the country this year have been in the range of US$250,000 to US$700,000.

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