RETALIO OFFERS BOOST TO SMEs - MENA startups, innovation, and tech news





With an aim to simplify retail by using technology and increasing access by making supply chains well organised, Retalio, a startup, has announced $6.7 million in seed funding, the largest seed round investment, for a Saudi startup. Previously it had secured $2.3 million in a pre-seed funding round in October 2020, which was the second largest pre-seed round for a Saudi startup in the MENAP region- Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan. With this, the company raised its total fundings to $9 million within 9 months of starting operations.


The seed round was led by returning investor Shorooq Partners, who had also backed the previous round, and London-based private equity firm Abercross Holdings which is backed by several Saudi family offices, accompanied by San Francisco based AgFunder and regional VC firm Arzan Venture Capital. The deal also witnessed the participation of individual investors like former Careem executive Junaid Iqbal. Thus this round strengthened the investor base with deep regional roots and strong global reach.


The few months old startup has been founded by Talha Ansari, Muhammad Nowkhaiz and Wahaj Ahmed in 2020, who are alums of companies like CareemRocket InternetDaraz and McKinsey. It is the ‘fastest growing’ business to business (B2B) platform in the MENAP region. With the help of Retalio, grocery store owners are able to purchase inventory for their stores, simply using its mobile app. It seeks to digitize, smoothen and eventually empower retail, using technology. According to Talha Ansari, the fresh funds will not only help them in stretching their existing verticals across MENAP, but also in building new technology to boost the neglected SME (small to medium enterprise) market, thereby achieving their vision of tapping the potential of 10 million SMEs.


At present, Retalio operates in Riyadh and Karachi, with smooth next-day delivery to thousands of stock-keeping units (SKUs) from FMCG brands. The startup has provided services to over 30,000 retailers to date. It has its own fulfillment centers that efficiently fulfill last-mile delivery in both the cities. The logistics department engages over 250 direct and indirect employees, making up over 60% of the total workforce of the company. It fulfils over 100,000 orders a month. Since its pre-seed round in October, it has been growing rapidly at a rate of 35% (in terms of GMV) month-over-month on average.

BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR SMEs The startup plans to utilize this new investment in expanding its team, developing their services and further increasing the reach of SMEs. It is commendable that this young startup has already built a firm ground in two key markets in the MENAP region and is on the way to become a leading regional player in the B2B E-commerce realm, with the team’s experience and domain proficiency. Informal retail is a large market that plays a prime role in providing employment and consumer spending in the MENAP region. With 700 million individuals and 10 million SMEs in MENAP, its unorganized retail sector serves the ideal opportunity to enhance the efficiency of the supply chain by utilizing technology and real-time data.

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