Moroccan startup Chari closes bridge round to pilot BNPL services with grocery stores

MOROCCO – Chari, a Moroccan B2B e-commerce platform that fashions retailers with suppliers, has announced the close of 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 startup digitizes the largely fragmented FMCG sector in French Speaking Africa and by using its app, traditional convenience stores in Morocco and Tunisia can order all the products they need and receive them in less than 24 hours.

Chari plans to use the acquired funding to test the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) services with its existing customers.

Upon successful implementation, the company will acquire a local credit company to enable shop owners to lend money and further grow their business.

Founded by Sophia Alj and Ismael Belkhayat in January 2020, Chari recently graduated from the Y Combinator Summer 21 batch.

In October 2021, the company announced a US$ 5m seed round along with the acquisition of Karny.ma, a Moroccan ledger book that had more than fifty thousand active users.

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

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

“Sophia and Ismael are visionary leaders that always make everyone around them think bigger every time they speak with them. We believe that under their leadership Chari will help in improving the lives of millions in Africa through simplified financial solutions.

“We are proud of their mission and delighted to join their adventure,” said Abdulaziz Al-Turki, Managing Partner at Khwarizmi Ventures.

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This bridge round allows Khwarizmi Ventures, Air Angels and AKWA Group to join the existing cap table of Chari that includes Y combinator, Rocket Internet, Global Founders Capital, Plug n Play, Orange Ventures, Harvard University Management Company, Village Capital, P1 Venturs among others.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian based Arabic eCommerce platform, ExpandCart, has raised US$2.7 million in a Pre-Series B bridge deal headed by Hong Kong’s Betatron Venture Group, with participation from previous investors Sawari Ventures in Egypt and Agility Ventures in Kuwait.

The new round of funding will help the entity expand in current markets while focusing on R&D, technology development, and new product development in order to enable 1 million merchants across the Mena region in the next three years.

That is by using a variety of products, including their new conversational commerce chatbot solution ExpandBot, which allows merchants to interact with their customers faster using conversation-based commerce tools like (Messenger and WhatsApp).

With predictions indicating MENA region’s e-commerce sector has grown at a CAGR of 35 percent over the last five years, studies show that e-commerce will accelerate even further between 2020 and 2022, at a 20 percent CAGR, and then expand at a further 14 percent every year until 2025.

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