B2B E-commerce platform, Cartona, digitizing and empowering all stakeholders of Egypt’s traditional trade market, has raised $12M to scale and explore new verticals
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Cartona, a B2B platform based in Egypt, has closed its $12M Series A fundraise led by Silicon Badia - the venture capital firm investing in global technology entrepreneurs, together with the active participation of the SANAD Fund for MSME, an impact investment fund dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa. Arab Bank Accelerator and Sunny Side Ventures also participated, alongside existing investors - Global Ventures and Kepple Ventures.
Founded in 2019, Cartona is digitizing the traditional trade market in Egypt including mom-and-pop stores, FMCG producers, wholesalers, and distributors. The startup embraces a cashless society vision, investing in embedded finance, payments, and operational integration with all stakeholders. This provides retailers and suppliers with an integrated solution boosting financial inclusion enabling them to run and grow their business more efficiently, and reach end-consumers with essential products at affordable prices.
E-commerce across the MENAPT region is one of the most funded industries this year, as recorded in our recently released State of Startup Funding - H1 2022 Emerging Venture Markets Report. Observing almost 90% YoY growth in funding, E-commerce startups across EVMs have crossed the $500M mark in VC funding in H1'22, showing promising signs of growth and emerging VC trends. One exciting VC trend has been investors’ appetite for B2B solutions in the Retail space with the likes of KSA’s Retailo and Jugnu in Pakistan raising sizable rounds in 2022 YTD. The lion’s share was recorded by Kenya-based Wasoko, closing a Mega deal of $125M Series B. As evident in this round, Retail and E-commerce startups across EVMs have been building an innovative Tech Stack to streamline operations between buyers and suppliers.
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Cartona’s model is asset-light, not owning a single product or warehouse or vehicle. This allows Cartona to execute its strategy of digitizing Egypt’s traditional, largely offline trade market by eliminating inefficiencies across the supply chain, while enabling seamless financial services’ solutions to an underserved network of hundreds of thousands of shops. Mahmoud Talaat, CEO and co-founder of Cartona, commented: “We are delighted to complete our Series A fundraise. The market context for Cartona is hugely attractive, and we are just getting started. Egypt has hundreds of thousands of mom-and-pop stores who are core to our business model. We will continue empowering them via efficient and seamless solutions in their trade and financial cycle with FMCG companies and wholesalers, aligning with our mission to help people better manage and control their businesses.”
The Egyptian market opportunity for Cartona is compelling. The overall retail market size is $120 billion, with the Food & Beverages market worth $70Bn. There are over 400K shops and thousands of international and local brands across Egypt, with the sector growing annually by 8%. Namek T. Zu’bi, Founding Managing Partner at Silicon Badia, said: "We are thrilled to partner with the Cartona team to help them continue to disrupt the $120Bn Egyptian retail market through its B2B technology platform and embedded financial service offerings. The market is hungry for these type of solutions and we believe Cartona's asset-light approach will allow them to serve as many marketplace participants as possible in a highly efficient manner."
Proceeds will be used to turbo-charge Cartona’s expansion across Egypt, to cover all governorates, grow its product, technology, and services, and explore new verticals beyond FMCG. Dr. Daniela Beckmann, SANAD Board Chairperson concluded: “We are incredibly proud of this transaction as it is the first investment of SANAD ESF II in Egypt, continuing the success of ESF I investments made in the country. By providing both financing and a software tailored to the market, Cartona’s digital platform is supporting innovative MSME retailers across Egypt, which will greatly contribute to SANAD’s mission of pursuing growth and employment creation across the region.”
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