Retail-tech startup Chari secures US$1m from Endeavor Catalyst to strengthen its expansion plan

MOROCCO – Chari, a B2B e-commerce and fintech startup, becomes the first Moroccan startup to receive US$1 million (10.9 million MAD) from Endeavor Catalyst, an investment fund that is part of the Endeavor network.

Endeavor Catalyst’s investment is part of Chari’s Serie-A round, with the funding round set to strengthen the company’s continental expansion plan and begin its focus on Fintech by financing the acquisition of Axa Credit, subject to central bank approval.

Present in Morocco since 2014, Endeavor Catalyst is the co-investment fund of the global network Endeavor.

“It’s a good sign to see that renowned foreign investment funds are interested in Moroccan startups; this bodes well for a rapid take-off of the Moroccan startup scene.

“It is a privilege to welcome Endeavor Catalyst among our investors, which thus joins other investors such as Y Combinator, Orange, Rocket Internet, or even Harvard University endowment,” Chari’s co-founder, Ismael Belkhayat, commented.

Chari is an e-commerce application for local grocery stores in Francophone African countries. It allows them to procure inventory for their stores and get it delivered for free while benefiting from payment facilities.

Since its launch during the peak of the COVID -19 pandemic by Ismael Belkhayat and Sophia Alj, it has been on an expansion spree.

In January 2021, while it was still a B2B e-commerce platform that fashions retailers with suppliers, the startup announced that it was seeking an investment to enable it to expand both at home and into other French-speaking African countries such as Tunisia, Algeria, Ivory Coast, and Senegal.

The announcement followed strong growth in its launch market of Casablanca, with the start-up revealing it has already signed up 10,000 shops as its clients.

In July that year, it became the first startup in the North African nation to join Y Combinator, a San Francisco-based startup accelerator, with the acquisition of 7% of Chari’s equity.

The following month Chari announced the acquisition of the mobile credit book application Karny.ma., a telephone credit book allowing traditional local businesses to manage their outstanding customers.

The startup raised US$5 million in October 2021, in the largest venture funding round in the country that year and among the biggest-ever seed funding rounds in the North African nation.

It used the funding to expand Chari and Karny to Francophone Africa and embed its financial services such as digital payment, money transfer, and buy-now-pay-later in its product roadmap.

After 3 months, the start-up raised a bridge round of funding 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 round valued the company at US$100 million.

In March this year, Chari acquired Axa Credit, the credit branch of Axa Assurance Maroc, for US$22 million.

This was closely followed by its purchase of Diago, an Ivorian app that connects neighborhood shops to FMCG producers and importers.

Its consistent growth earned it the title “Disrupter of the year” trophy at the Africa CEO Forum held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast this year.

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