Chari, a B2B e-commerce and retail startup based in Morocco confirmed that it has raised a bridge round valued at $100 million.
The round welcomed new investors Air Angels, Khwarizmi Ventures, and the venture capital arm of AKWA Group, Afri Mobility.
They join existing investors (Rocket Internet, Y Combinator, Plug n Play, Global Founders Capital, Orange Ventures, Village Capital, Harvard University Management Company and P1 Ventures) who invested in about $70 million in Chari’s $5 million seed round last October.
Chari, like many other startups in the e-commerce space across the continent, digitizes the largely fragmented fast-moving consumer goods(FMCG) sector in Morocco and Tunisia.
Chari operates as a mobile app, which allows small retailers to order products from local manufacturers and partner FMCG multinationals and get items in less than 24 hours.
Backed by YC, Chari acquired Karny.ma, Moroccan ledger book last October. The platform provides bookkeeping and credit services to about 50,000 merchants.
It allows merchants to monitor and handle the credit they give to their clients.
Also read, Review: What is Bridge Funding?
The bridge round and Karny acquisition fits perfectly into Chari’s strategy to provide payment facilities. It puts the company in a good position to offer financial services, such as, “buy now, pay later,” to its retailers.
Chief Executive, Ismael Belkhayat explained that Chari will channel the fund from the bridge round to testing the BNPL services with existing customers and upon successful results, a local credit company will be acquired in order to enable shop owners lend money directly to their end-users and further grow their business as well.
Karny provides Chari with valuable data on the loans provided by stores to their customers and allows Chari assess the unbanked shop owners’ credits, determining the most suitable payment terms to give each.
So, in essence, the data allows Chari to determine the items sold, the shop owners, their end clients as well as the amount lent.
The startup will now offer some of its shop owners payment terms and BNPL options based on their registration date, average basket order, order frequency and amount of money lent to their end consumers.
Belkhayat, revealed that Chari has selected a few shop owners and they are ready to do a test run.
Based on the four criteria, merchants’ digital wallet can have a negative balance; the ceiling is between -$100 to -$500 with no more than 30 days without charge.
Chari plans to expand its operations to Tunisia and other French-speaking countries in Africa once it gets it in Morocco.
If there’s any sector that has recorded the biggest uptick in the number of venture capital and startups in emerging markets since the start of last year, it is the digitization of mom and pop stores.
Africa as a whole is experiencing gradual digitization of its major sectors and e-commerce is not left out. Both new and existing ventures see digitization as a better way to explore the market.
Chari, founded in 2020 by Sophia Alj and Ismael Belkhayat, is one of the e-commerce ventures that has taken the bull by the horn to digitize retail stores in Africa, starting with Morocco.
Securing a seed funding round of $5 million last year, it has successfully implemented the set goals for which the fund was raised.
from all indications, there should be no doubt that this new bridge round will go a long way to facilitate Chari’s plans to explore and expand into new regions and also implement its (buy now, pay later) BNPL services.
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