Egypt-based e-commerce platform Wasla has raised $9 million from Contact Financial Holding, formerly Sarwa Capital. to accelerate the startup's regional expansion as well as expedite the rollout of new features and products such as buy now pay later (BNPL)
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Contact Financial Holding (EGX: CNFN.CA), Egypt’s non-bank financial services provider, today announced the completion of a strategic investment into Wasla, the e-commerce SuperApp. With the tie-up, Contact will support Wasla’s product rollout and regional expansion with a series of investments totaling up to $9M aiming to realize Wasla’s mission to enable e-commerce, payments and credit for large audiences in emerging markets.
Contact, (formerly Sarwa Capital), is Egypt’s pioneering consumer finance platform, transforming the way people access finance since 2001. Being the first financial services platform to introduce advanced credit scoring and collection mechanisms in Egypt, this strategic investment adds to Contact’s growing footprint in fintech, and especially e-commerce, allowing Contact to engage consumers at the beginning of their e-commerce journey while they search, discover, and shop online. Founded in 2019 by Serag Meneassy, Taymour Sabry and Mahmoud El Said, Wasla describes itself as an e-commerce super app, providing an end-to-end e-commerce solution. Wasla is the foremost emerging markets mobile web browser and desktop extension that helps users save money, pay securely, build their credit profiles and gain access to flexible and convenient financing.
As recorded in our State of Startup Funding-Emerging Venture Markets 2022, the E-commerce space across MENA, Africa, Pakistan & Turkey has accounted for 10% of all transactions in 2021. Observing more than 90% YoY growth in funding, E-commerce startups across EVMs have crossed the $500M mark in VC funding throughout the year, showing promising signs and emerging VC trends. One exciting VC trend has been investors’ appetite for B2B solutions with the likes of MaxAB and Capiter in Egypt, Bazaar in Pakistan, and Chari.ma in Morocco raising major rounds in 2021. Saudi-based E-commerce startups raised the lion’s share of funding, accounting for more than 30% of all VC capital deployed throughout the year as recorded in our 2022 KSA Venture Investment Report. Of the top E-commerce funding rounds, it was startups that have been rolling out financing and payment solutions that gained traction over the past year, with wholesale marketplace Sary, and Try-Now-Buy-Later pioneer Nejree highlighting the top funding rounds in E-commerce 2021.
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This investment reinforces Contact's quest to enable tech-first ventures in Egypt's financing ecosystem. Currently, Wasla is focused on optimizing the e-commerce search and discovery experience, by helping users save money online through aggregating deals, for a network of over 100, local and regional, e-commerce merchants (similar to US startup Honey, which sold to PayPal in 2019 for $4 billion). Founded Mahmoud El Said, Serag Meneassy, and Taymour Sabry, Wasla currently has 35 team members, 1.5 million app downloads, with 8.5x year-on-year growth in total e-commerce traffic and has also recently secured a partnership to expand its services across Africa, one of the fastest-growing consumer markets.
Operating as an extension to Contact's core business, Wasla will allow Contact to move into adjacent market segments and attract new user groups. Hazem Moussa, Chairman of Contact Financial, commented “We are thrilled to be supporting the Wasla team build out their vision of a digital ecosystem enabling online shopping for all.” Zater, Managing Director and Group CEO of Contact Financial, added “This partnership comes as Contact continues to extend its credit services platform to serve digital channels. We look forward to supporting Wasla in its rollout of payments and financing tools, bringing the quality and superior customer experience that has come to be expected of Contact. We will continue to seek new ways with which we can serve our expanding audience with high-quality services through a wide variety of channels, continuing to transform the way consumers and businesses access financial services.”
With this strategic partnership, Contact and Wasla will work together on realizing the vision of further enabling e-commerce adoption in emerging markets through its various tools supported by a new suite of financial services offerings including online payments and Buy Now Pay Later. Mahmoud El Said, CEO of Wasla concluded, “Having personally worked with the Contact team before, I was always amazed at what they have been able to build as a leading consumer finance platform in the region. This is why we believe this deep partnership, leveraging contacts market position, experience, and fully digitized loan origination process, will allow us to expand our offering catering to the online shopping experience by introducing completely new ways to help consumers save money on each online purchase, pay securely, build their credit profiles, and borrow flexibly”
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