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DisrupTECH: Contributing to Egypt’s Growth Journey

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Disruptech co-Founder: Dina H. Sherif, Mohamed Okasha and Malek Sultan (Photo By: Matjaz Kacicnik)

The Arab region is a unique region. We could write about its distinctive historical, socio-economic, and political conditions forever, without running out of material. Yet, in the midst of this wealth of information, we want to zoom right in on a very interesting fact. The region has the world’s lowest bank penetration rate in the world – only slightly over 14 percent are in the formal banking system. If you think that’s what makes our region unique, however, you would be wrong.

The uniqueness only appears when you juxtapose that low bank penetration rate with an internet penetration rate that exceeds 100 percent, a mobile penetration rate that exceeds 100 percent and a smart phone penetration rate that was already at 60 percent back in 2017. This uniqueness is what makes our region, and in particular, our country Egypt – home to the region’s largest unbanked population – fertile ground for financial technology, or what has come to be known as “Fintech.”

This uniqueness is what gave birth to Fawry, a company established in 2009 by the Managing Partner of Disruptech, Mohamed Okasha, and his colleague Ashraf Sabry. Back in 2009, nobody in Egypt knew what fintech was, but everyone knew that there was a deep need to solve the problem of digital payments. Fawry not only tackled that problem, but it created a space for others to innovate and design market solutions to the multitude of problems that surround the lack of access to traditional forms of financial services by those considered ‘unbankable’ or simply ‘unreachable.’

In 2019, Fawry became the first fintech company to IPO in the region and since taking that step, the price of its stock has risen by 300 percent. Last week, Fawry became Egypt’s first tech ‘unicorn,’ born in the midst of a global pandemic and what is quickly becoming a global economic meltdown of massive proportions. If this is not testimony to the importance of this sector and the opportunities that lie within it, then we are not sure what is.

If you don’t believe that Fawry’s unicorn status and the birth of numerous rapidly growing startups in the space are proof that fintech is the future or that this sector will be critical to Egypt’s ability to achieve its commitment to inclusive and sustainable economic growth under Vision 2030, forget all of that and focus on one simple reality. In the midst of the global pandemic, Egypt and many similar countries in the region and beyond are finally introducing laws and regulations that will not only allow this sector to thrive, but will allow our economies to thrive by using technology to serve the millions of people who remain economically excluded from the system.

Further to the above, recent studies have demonstrated that providing fintech services to the unbanked and MSMEs alone can generate additional annual revenue in the billions. According to a 2020 CGAP funded report on the landscape of Fintech in the Arab World (https://www.findevgateway.org/sites/default/files/users/user331/CGAP-EY_FintechRegionalReport_ArabWorld_2020.pdf), the region boasts significantly high survival rates, making these companies attractive for investors. For fintech companies launched in 2014, 90% survived. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that the 2019 MENA Fintech Venture Report (http://mcit.gov.eg/Upcont/Documents/Reports and Documents_4112019000_MAGNiTT_ADGM_2019_MENA_FinTech_Venture_Report_EN.pdf), highlighted a total of USD 237 million that were invested in 181 deals since 2015.

The enormous potential that lies within the fintech space was a part of why Mohamed Okasha stepped down from his leadership role at Fawry to launch Disruptech, Egypt’s first VC Fund to focus on fintech and fintech-enabled startups in Egypt. Stepping down from Fawry at a time where it was clear that the company was heading towards a billion-dollar valuation was built around a desire help entrepreneurs who have entered this space avoid the same sacrifices and hardships experienced during Fawry’s growth journey.

Disruptech’s mission is to provide access to capital, specialized expertise, and the networks required for entrepreneurs in this sector to thrive and have impact on Egypt’s growth journey. This mission is reflected in the expertise and professional history of the partners and advisors brought in to join the team – Malek Sultan, and Dina H. Sherif who joined as partners, in addition to Mohamed Aboulnaga who joined as a Senior Advisor.

Also Read: Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu, African Risk Capacity (ARC) CEO Shares Goals, Disaster Risk Solutions, COVID-19 and Future

For the Disruptech team, establishing this fund – however hard it may be – is built on a solid belief that Egypt, the country that each of us loves deeply, cannot continue as is. We believe in Egypt’s potential, and we know that fintech is not just about financial inclusion, it is about economic inclusion, as a dear friend of Dina’s, Efosa Ojomo, from the Clay Christiansen Institute would say (https://www.christenseninstitute.org/blog/chasing-financial-inclusion-is-a-red-herring-economic-inclusion-should-be-the-goal/). Egypt is at a critical inflection point in its growth journey and many entrepreneurs are rising to the occasion.

Our goal is for Disruptech to be a solid contributor in the story of Egypt’s future growth and its embrace of technology as a critical and essential tool within that inclusive growth journey.

Article By: Dina H. Sherif, Mohamed Okasha and Malek Sultan

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Access Bank Partners ScaleUp Africa To Boost Women’s Empowerment with the Pan-African Women’s Conference

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On Wednesday, 21st April, Access Bank and ScaleUp Africa will present the Pan-African Women’s Conference under the theme, Choose to Challenge. The virtual conference is part of a strategic partnership to boost the economic contribution and resources available to women in business and professional careers. The program will also mark 6 years of Access Bank’s “W”, the multiple award-winning initiative for women that has seen many beneficiaries inspired and connected.

‘We kick off our partnership with Access Bank with the Pan-African Women’s Conference to celebrate women in business across Africa and to open up new products and services to a broader audience beyond Ghana. We are truly committed to further support Access Bank to drive its W Initiative, Gender, Innovation and Entrepreneurship strategy, bringing our core capabilities of digital engagement, holistic programme design and implementation,” shares Amma Gyampo, CEO of ScaleUp Africa and a Strategic Advisor to corporations, foundations and governments.

The Pan-African Women’s Conference will feature leaders in finance, business growth strategy and organizational development opportunities from across the continent including Elsie Addo-Awadzie, 2nd Deputy Governor, BoG, Matilda Asante-Asiedu, Group Head, Retail Banking, Access Bank, Yofi Grant, Chief Executive Officer, GIPC and Franklin Owusu-Karikari, Director, Business Support & Policy, NEI.

Conference Discussion Topics will cover:

  1. Pushing the boundaries and thriving in the entrepreneurship journey.
  2.  Strengthening the capacity of women owned businesses to boost growth
  3.  Maximizing opportunities using the free trade agreement in Ghana and across the continent.
  4.  Business Growth: Surviving Covid-19 and beyond

Other featured speakers include:

Irene Ochem – (Nigeria) – Founder and chief executive officer of Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum

Fatima Alimohamed – (Ghana) – CEO of African Brand Warrior

Chilufya Mutale – (Zambia)- Founder and CEO of Premier Credit

Justina Mutale – (Zambia) – Founder & President of the Justina Mutale Foundation and its Scholarship 

Thelma Ekiyor (Nigeria) – Managing Partner, SME.NG

Women play a critical role in the entrepreneurship world, providing essential human care and food-related services and as such we must be intentional about mainstreaming impact, gender equality, upskilling and decent work for women as we embark upon development in this post-Covid world. The Pan African Women’s Conference is an ideal opportunity for women aspiring to get to the apex of their careers, grow their businesses and gain nuggets for personal development,” adds Gymapo.

The Pan African Women’s Conference will begin at 11:00am GMT on 21st April, 2021.

To register visit: Pan-African Women’s Conference 

Virtual conference details will be provided upon registration.

 

 

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Cairo-Based Grocery Delivery Startup, Appetito Raises $450k Seed Investment

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Appetito truck and press release (Source: Shehab Mohamed) 

Appetito, a Cairo-based grocery startup, has announced a raise of $450k seed round of financing. The Startup operates through dark stores model, where products are sourced from manufacturers, stored in mini fulfilment centres then delivered to household customers. Established in March 2020, the company started with a wide range of private label products serving all areas of Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria with next day & pre-scheduled deliveries.

Recently, the company expanded its product portfolio to include more than 1000 SKUs from well-known consumer brands and entered the hyper convenience race by offering its customers less than 60-minute delivery in selected areas.

The round was raised by a group of Saudi Angel investors led by Ahmed Al Alola, an early-stage investor who was one of the early backers of Nana and Sary, alongside with Afropreneurs Fund, an African early-stage technology fund that has previously backed top startups such as Andela, Flutterwave and Trella, in addition to the participation of Jedar Capital an emerging VC focusing on early stage start-ups in the Middle East, Africa & Emerging Asia.

Speaking on the raise, Appetito Founder and CEO Shehab Mokhtar says: “We’re proud of what we have achieved in just a few months from our launch. We’re privileged to have such prominent investors backing us. With their support and the team, we’re building, I’m confident we will be in a leading position in the global race of grocery delivery.”.

Ahmed Al Alola commented on the round “Observing the radical change in consumer’s behaviour post-COVID-19, the grocery delivery market is expanding rapidly in the region. I believe Appetito – with its stellar team – is well positioned to lead that segment and capture the market by delivering superior experience compared to what is currently available in most of the African space.

On his part, Idris Bello, Managing Partner, Afropreneurs Fund said ” Our investment into Appetito’s seed round follows on our proven thesis of investing in strong founders with unique local insights and a bias towards execution. We are excited by what Shehab and his team have achieved so far, and we are very bullish on the Egyptian early-stage ecosystem.”

Sherif Nessim, Founder and Managing Director of Jedar Capital said “We are excited to be part of Appetito’s journey in Egypt and MENA region. We have been watching Appetito’s execution and the team’s growth focused approach with very limited resources early on, this was a clear message to us on how resilient and focused they are. Appetito is best suited for growth with the digital transformation happening in Egypt where online commerce growth is skyrocketing and saw a huge leap with covid, more and more customers now are adopting online grocery shopping as their standard now. We believe that Appetito’s model focusing on dark stores rather than aggregating from grocery retail stores will add value and differentiation in the market and play a pivotal role in terms of operational efficiency and gross margin contribution. We look forward to supporting them with their expansion and growth plans in Egypt and beyond.”.

 

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Flux Panda Brings Live Stream Shopping to MENA Region

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Flux Panda Founder, Alexander Rauser

In response to the restrictions caused by the pandemic, Flux Panda was created to encourage businesses in the Middle East and North African region to utilize live streaming platforms to sell their products. The App combines the functionalities of an eCommerce website and live streaming app. Merchants upload the products they want to sell during the live stream, connect Flux Panda to multiple social media platforms with live streaming like Facebook Live or Instagram Live, and their customers can buy the products by clicking the buy button and entering their payment details.

“Our goal is to make the selling and buying process on live streams much easier and enable any business to own the experience. While many small and large businesses are already selling live on social networks, our solution fixes some key problems such as order management, real-time inventory, and customization capabilities. You could say we are similar to a platform like Shopify, but focused on live commerce.” says Alexander Rauser, Founder and CEO of Flux Panda.

The App offers a flexible pricing model to cater to small businesses, eCommerce companies, and even large retail brands. Currently, the Flux Panda partner network covers South East Asia, Central America, Africa and the Middle East with further expansion plans in 2021.

According to research by Coresight, live selling generated $60 billion in global sales in 2019 and expectedly doubled in 2020 to $129 billion. Live selling has been popular in Asia for many years, even before the pandemic hit. The largest western fashion brands like Burberry and Louis Vuitton have already tried live stream eCommerce through China’s biggest marketplaces like Tmall and Little Red Book.

About Flux Panda

Flux Panda is a live selling solution established in 2020. It combines the functionalities of a multi-platform live streaming tool and an eCommerce website so viewers can view the details, add to cart, and pay for the items being demonstrated. It is the only solution where merchants can sign up and go live without any assistance or setup fees. It can be used by merchants with or without their own eCommerce site.

 

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