Egyptian Informal Retailer Marketplace Raises $6.2M, The Largest-Ever Seed Round In Africa

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
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MaxAB aims to automate and simplify Egypt’s food retail market with its online platform that connects stores with suppliers. A MaxAB driver stands next to a branded truck. Image supplied by MaxAB

Egyptian business-to-business e-commerce marketplace MaxAB connects informal food and grocery retailers with suppliers via mobile and has completed the largest-ever seed round raised by an African startup.

Founded in 2018 by Egyptian Belal El-Megharbel and Libyan Mohamed Ben Halim, MaxAB has built a digital platform to manage procurement and delivery of groceries and food to informal stores in Egypt. 

Small traditional stores make up around 90 percent of Egypt’s $50 billion food retail market, CEO El-Megharbel told Techcrunch.

MaxAB aims to automate and simplify that market by connecting stores and suppliers through its online platform.

Cairo-based MaxAB raised the $6.2 million round co-led by Endure Capital, a Silicon Valley-based VC firm with offices in Cairo and Dubai, and 4DX Ventures, an Africa-focused early-stage venture firm with offices in San Francisco and Accra, Ghana. Participation included 500 Startups, Beco Capital, Outlierz Ventures and other local investors, according to a press release emailed to Moguldom.

Morocco-based Outlierz Ventures, which is backed by private investors from Silicon Valley, the Middle East, and Africa, invests in tech-enabled startups. 500 Startups is a Silicon Valley-based early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator that was founded in 2010.

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Largest-ever seed round

The Cairo-based startup’s $6.2 million investment is the largest-ever seed round for a tech startup based in Africa.

The previous highest seed round raised in Africa was a $6 million investment from Silicon Valley investors Western Technology Investment and Y Combinator in Nigerian e-logistics platform Kobo360 at the end of 2018.

Kobo360 has since gone on to raise a further $20-million Series-A equity round led by U.S.-based investment bank Goldman Sachs in August, in addition to $10 million in debt financing.

MaxAB plans to use the $6.2 million investment to expand to more cities in Egypt while building its technology team. Expansion into other parts of North Africa is not on the agenda at the moment.

MaxAB has a fleet of 60 trucks and a large warehouse that serves Cairo. The tech startup employs 270 people and has 9,000 retailers on its app, according to the press release.