isclosure: AFN’s parent company, AgFunder, is an investor in Retailo.
Retailo — an online B2B marketplace that connects merchants with food producers and other suppliers — has raised $36 million for its Series A round, which included both equity and venture debt components.
Graphene Ventures — which has backed companies including Lyft, Snapchat, and Eat Just‘s cultivated meat unit, Good Meat — led the round. Other new investors participating in the equity fundraise included 500 Global, Agility, Aujan, Tech Invest Com, and Mentor’s Fund.
Existing investors AgFunder, Abercross Holdings, Arzan VC, and Shorooq Partners also took part. The venture debt financing came from IMM Investment Global-backed Nahda Fund.
Serving Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the UAE, Retailo helps small-scale merchants, such as food vendors and ‘mom-and-pop stores,’ to get online to get the best deals on inventory and logistics.
“As global supply chains come under stress pushing up commodity prices and depressing GDP growth, the value of smart supply chains becomes even more important,” Retailo co-founder and CEO Talha Ansari said in a statement.
“The retail sector serves 700 million persons in MENAP [the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan], contributes almost 20% to [its] 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.”
Retailo’s Talha Ansari talks supply chain digitalization in the Middle East – read more here
Retailo was launched in early 2020 by former Careem executives Ansari, Muhammad Nowkhaiz, and Wahaj Ahmed.
During their time at the ride-hailing app — which was acquired by Uber in 2020 for $3.1 billion — the trio noticed that most of the retail industry they were working with across the MENAP region was highly fragmented, informal, and in need of digitalization.
Setting out to upgrade the region’s retail infrastructure, Retailo’s three founders established a B2B e-commerce platform that would give small businesses access to products from consumers’ favorite brands.
Today, that marketplace serves around 50,000 retailers and “hundreds” of brand owners. It offers 5,000 SKUs which can be delivered to business owners within 24 hours.
On top of that, Retailo has added ‘buy now, pay later’ capabilities, giving its vendor partners “flexible” options for payments and lines of credit; and it also offers ‘smart’ logistics and warehousing, fleet management, data analytics, and cross-border distribution – enabling retailers and brand owners alike to buy and sell into foreign markets.
The Riyadh-based startup said it’ll use the Series A funds for geographical expansion, and to launch new products and verticals.
It previously raised $2.3 million in pre-seed funding in October 2020, following that up with a $6.7 million seed round in May 2021.