Company helps small businesses in MENA build online stores in minutes
Agility Ventures, the venture capital arm of global logistics company Agility, announced that it has invested in ExpandCart, a Cairo-based e-commerce enabler that allows entrepreneurs and small businesses to build online stores quickly and without any technical expertise.
The investment is part of a funding round closed this year by Agility, Graphene Venture Capital, Betatron, and other angel investors.
ExpandCart provides merchants with mobile-responsive online templates available in Arabic and English, as well as offering marketing, support, and hosting services. Additionally, it allows store owners to integrate with more than 20 payment and shipping options, streamlining the store-building process from start to finish.
Henadi Al-Saleh, Agility Chairperson and leader of Agility’s logistics venture strategy, announced the investment, saying it was part of Agility’s drive to expand its leadership in digital logistics and e-commerce.
“We think the potential of both digital logistics and e-commerce logistics is enormous. But to realize this potential, we also need to support the larger eco-system for digital trade. In other words, we need to go upstream,” Al Saleh said. “Agility is investing more than $100 million in Shipa.com, a digital logistics platform that allows businesses and consumers to manage freight, e-commerce and urban deliveries online. The ExpandCart partnership helps get more businesses trading across borders in the first place.”
More than 10,000 sellers have launched their stores on ExpandCart, allowing the merchants to receive more than 190,000 orders. In addition to store-building tools, ExpandCart offers sellers support for digital marketing, handling and fulfilment, a point-of-sale system, branded native mobile apps, and after-sale service.
Amr Shawqy, ExpandCart CEO and co-founder, said Agility’s investment and logistics expertise will help accelerate the company’s growth.
“The e-commerce sector is booming in the Middle East, and thousands of businesses are in position to expand their sales online. With help from Agility, our goal is to scale and support Middle East merchants throughout the entire e-commerce process,” Shawqy said. “Our engineers are continually working to provide innovative e-commerce solutions, and we have a substantial product roadmap for the coming period. With Agility behind us, we can unlock the incredible potential of the region, especially for its small businesses and entrepreneurs.”
According to a 2019 Bain & Company study, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) e-commerce market is worth $8.3 billion and has grown by 25% annually since 2014. It is expected to reach $28.5 billion by 2022 and could grow even larger, given that e-commerce penetration in MENA remains low compared with other regions.
“The Middle East retail market is worth more than $231 billion. And although e-commerce is just a small percentage today, the more that we create conditions that allow businesses to trade online, the more we will see e-commerce’s market share grow,” Al-Saleh said. “Agility Ventures will work closely with ExpandCart to help it grow and reach more customers,” Al-Saleh said. “In addition to funding, Agility will partner with ExpandCart’s team and offer the last-mile logistics and e-fulfillment expertise that is critical to successful online businesses.”