Middle East business to business (B2B) e-commerce startup Retailo has raised $36 million in its Series A investment round which was a mix of equity and venture debt.

The round was led by Silicon Valley based Graphene Ventures which was an investor of tech giants Snapchat and Lyft, Retailo said in a statement.

Graphene Ventures is joined by leading investors that include 500 Global, Agility, Aujan, Tech Invest Com and Mentor’s Fund, all of which have the relevant exposure and investments in the retail industry’s technology companies.

The venture debt was raised from Nahda Fund – one of the Middle East’s first venture debt funds which is backed by IMM Investment Global, based in Hong Kong.

Additionally, Shorooq Partners, Abercross Holdings, Arzan VC, AgFunder also participated in the round as repeat investors which demonstrates their continuing belief in Retailo’s successful future.

Retailo said that the Series A funding will help the firm move into the next phase of expansion into new geographies, verticals and products.

“As global supply chains come under stress pushing up commodity prices and depressing gross domestic product (GDP) growth, the value of smart supply chains becomes even more important,” said Retailo’s Chief Executive Officer Talha Ansari.

“The retail sector serves 700 million persons in Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan (MENAP), contributes almost 20 percent to the  GDP and employs tens of millions. By providing technology solutions to this underserved market, we are not only improving lives but also uplifting the economy of the entire MENAP region,” he added.

Retailo is a regional B2B marketplace in MENAP and has raised a total investment of $45 million in less than 1.5 years of operations, a landmark for any startup in the region.

According to the statement, retail in MENAP is a $500 billion industry which consists of over 10 million small businesses to serve a population of more than 700 million consumers. However, the majority of this retail industry is informal and undigitized. Small businesses have to rely on inefficient supply chains and limited financial resources while operating on impossible margins. Retailo aims to champion these small business owners by building a suite of technologies around them. The company has begun this via their B2B community commerce platform which is used by over 50,000 retailers monthly.

On Retailo’s mobile platform, small businesses can find a wide catalogue of over 5,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) which are delivered to their doorstep in less than 24 hours. They can also avail Buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) services, which give them flexible payment options and credit lines. By providing timely supply, competitive rates, and easy credit, Retailo is able to address the needs of retailers and significantly improve their business.

To offer a one-stop shop solution, Retailo directly works with hundreds of leading local, regional and global brands. Retailo also optimizes end- to-end logistics in the supply chain via efficient warehousing operations and smart fleet management solutions.

Leveraging its wide regional presence, Retailo has recently begun offering its sellers a cross-border distribution platform across the three biggest markets in the region: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Pakistan. Retailo also provides data analytics services to sellers to help them evaluate sales performance and consumption trends.

Headquartered in Riyadh, Retailo was founded by former Careem executives Talha Ansari, Wahaj Ahmed and Mohammad Nowkhaiz in July 2020 with a unique regional launch. Growth has been quick and in only 18 months Retailo has scaled to 10+ cities in three countries: KSA, UAE and Pakistan.

“The multi-market strategy from day one was unconventional and challenging. Covid made it even more so. But now Retailo is a scalable organization with hundreds of millions of dollars in annualized revenue and colleagues from multiple nationalities and diverse backgrounds who have left leading institutions like Amazon, Delivery Hero and Goldman Sachs to fulfil Retailo mission in building technology that empowers 10 million retailers in the region,” said Himag Vaidya, Retailo’s Head of Strategy.

Nabil A. Borhanu, partner at Graphene Ventures said, “We are impressed with what Retailo has achieved in an astonishingly short time. Their vision is both ambitious and inspiring and we believe that partnering with them is a sound business investment and also a chance to truly improve the lives of millions of people.”

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