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ILLA: Egypt’s FMCG-focused logistics startup raises $500k seed funding to further expand its operations

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ILLA, a FMCG delivery logistics marketplace has successfully raised a $500,000.00 seed fund with participation from Averroes VC, AUC Angels and a consortium of local and regional strategic angel investors with follow-on funding from Flat6Labs Cairo.

ILLA launched officially in March 2019, through Flat6Labs Cairo accelerator, where they got great business support enabling them to truly take off, after running their operations in beta mode for 8 months, getting robust feedback from their pilot clients who remained on their portfolio ever since and continue to grow alongside other household name clients.

ILLA caters to the big corporates and SMEs alike, with full-fledged transportation and logistics solutions tackling major pain points unique to the FMCG industry. While innovating around logistics is challenging, it’s even more so within an ever-growing industry, and that’s why ILLA is uniquely poised to capture considerable market share both locally and regionally for their exclusive focus and innovation around this industry. The Outcome of such focus is that they operate within 24 Governorates across Egypt, delivering 7 million cases so far and spanning more that 3 million Kilometers.

The new investment round will enable ILLA to further capitalize on its position as a leader in FMCG Delivery Logistics industry in Egypt, where delivery logistics is being constantly disrupted with new technology and market dynamics. ILLA is striving to maintain its leadership positioning as the delivery logistics arm to FMCG companies as well as SMEs while enriching the customer journey and deepening relationships within the value chain. Tech transformation is a key area of focus for ILLA, which enables its clients to manage their existing and outsourced fleets seamlessly and provide them with elaborate analytics and market insights, to make better decisions and deliver superior quality to their customers. The funding will also drive further local expansion and exploration of regional markets to operate in next.

Mahmoud El- Zomor CEO & Co-founder, comes from a family deeply rooted in the distribution industry, whereas he held several positions in multinational FMCG corporates like CocaCola and Clorox, he then sought to innovate around traditional logistics with technology disruption and began the journey of ILLA with his three childhood friends who span a diverse range of experiences across the FMCG Industry as well. With Alaa Jarkas, Commercial Director & Co-Founder who used to work as an Account sales manager at juhayna as well as past experiences in overseas in saudi arabia as an operation officer in oil and gas service company, and Ahmed Sakr, COO & Co-Founder, used to work as an account manager at Coca-Cola Egypt, and as a financial advisor in the foreign exchange market before that and lastly the one in charge of the tech innovation that’s at the very core of ILLA, Hossam Saraya CTO & Co-Founder, a software engineer with over a decade of experience, who has been leading multinational software teams to deliver scalable, usable, highly available and data driven software products.

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Here’s what the investors had to say about the team and the company.

“We at Averroes are always on the quest of backing up exceptional startups and we have established this earlier in the logistics technology domain. We believe in ILLA’s vision in providing high quality customized distribution solutions and in the value of its offering in serving FMCGs in an innovative and effective manner. ILLA’s exceptional team of diversified backgrounds are surely capable and well equipped in becoming a key player in the future of the logistics technology industry.” Dr. Ahmed Alsharif, Founding Partner and CEO, Averroes Ventures.

“The ailing logistics and delivery sector is at a turning point, with Illa well-positioned due to their solid team, unique market know-how, and the strength of their solution. We are really pleased to support their growth and be a part of this round.” – Mariam Kamel, AUC Angels.

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“ILLA joined FLat6Labs Cairo Spring 2019 Accelerator Program. As early stage investors, Flat6Labs primarily invests in people, ILLA’s founding team demonstrated from day one that they are an A team. Their dedication, extensive experience in the logistics & Multinational FMCG industries and more importantly their insightful vision were assuring signs of great success ahead.FLat6Labs is reinforcing its belief in ILLA and the team by joining a second round of investment in the company, in order for ILLA to continue to grow their business operations, to serve new markets/segments and introduce new technologically-enabled solutions.

Flat6Labs Cairo is confident in ILLA’s future plans and their ability to fulfil them. We wish the team continued success, says Marie-Therese Fam, Managing Partner of Flat6Labs Cairo.”

ILLA may only be beginning the journey but in such short period of time they managed to gain the trust and support of major local companies and multinational household names, the likes of CocaCola, P&G, Nestle and Pepsico while also empowering big local ones alike, and the road ahead continues to be ever so promising for the company.

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Hospitality & Tourism

Radisson Individuals makes its African debut with hotel signing in Ghana, to open its doors in October 2021

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Image Source: Radisson Hotel Group

Radisson Hotel Group is proud to announce its first Radisson Individuals property in Africa, with the signing of Earl Heights Suites Hotel, a member of Radisson Individuals, Accra, Ghana. Due to open by the end of 2021, this new addition places the Group firmly on track to achieving its objective of reaching 150 hotels in operation and under development by 2025.

Located in Dzorwulu, the property is currently undergoing a full renovation and is on schedule to open within this year. Just 5km from Kotoka International Airport (KIA), the main access point by air for domestic and international visitors, the serviced apartment property is conveniently located near shopping malls, restaurants, as well as the University of Ghana, situated north of the district. Also within reach, is the tranquil Legon Botanical Gardens, with its canopy walk, rope courses, canoeing and rich birdlife.

Due to its strategic geographical location, ease of access, and aviation facilities and connections, Accra has become a conference and aviation hub for West Africa. It is also dominated by local and international business activities, making the city one of the most attractive African cities to do business.

The 58-serviced apartments property will comprise of modern studios as well as spacious and elegant one- and two-bedroom suites. Creating a true destination for its guests, the property will offer culinary options in the restaurant, The Society, which will include outdoor seating as well as in the hotel bar. The property will also feature a spa, gym, pool, convenience store, and business centre, providing the perfect base for both business and leisure.

Radisson Individuals is a conversion brand that offers independent hotels and local, regional chains the opportunity to be part of the global Radisson Hotel Group platform, benefit from the Group’s international awareness and experience, with the freedom to maintain their own uniqueness and identity.  Radisson Hotel Group plans to more than double its serviced apartments portfolio within the next 5 years across EMEA. Today, serviced apartments represent around 10% of the Group’s EMEA portfolio with 45 properties and more than 5,400 units in operation and under development.

Erwan Garnier, Senior Director, Development, Africa, Radisson Hotel Group, said: “We have identified Ghana as a key focus country in our five-year development plan and, Accra as a focus and primary city. The signing of the property, which compliments the Radisson Hotel & Apartments Accra announced last year and scheduled to open in 2023, is also aligned with our current conversion-focused growth strategy, which will remain a priority, especially post-pandemic. We are therefore proud the Radisson Individuals African debut, will be on Ghanaian soil, carving the path for the new brand to continue its expansion across the continent. In proud partnership with Earlbeam Group of Companies, we are thrilled to be contributing to the country’s tourism industry, a key pillar of the national economy.”

Alfred Danso Darkwah, CEO of the hotel’s owning company, Earlbeam Group of Companies, said: “The Earl Heights Suites Hotel partnership is an exciting opportunity – it brings together the union of Radisson Hotel Group and The Earlbeam Group Of Companies, two well-seasoned brands from the hospitality and real estate sector respectively. This will be the first branded apart hotel in Ghana, completely unique, providing each guest a boutique home-away-from home experience. In addition, it delivers partner confidence, guarantee of service standards, and assured safety and security, leaving a positive mark on Ghana’s hospitality sector. We believe this Radisson Individuals hotel will inject much-needed life within the local hospitality industry and pave the way for upcoming projects between Radisson Hotel Group and The Earlbeam Group of Companies.”

Image Source: Radisson Hotel Group

Herewith the link to the renders of the hotel, which is on track to open its doors in October this year Radisson Individuals

Radisson Hotel Group operates to high standards of performance and advocates socially and environmentally sustainable business practices. More than ever, Radisson Hotel Group’s highest priorities remain the health and safety of its guests and employees. The Group partnered with SGS, the world’s leading inspection and certification company, to implement the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, which ensures the highest hygiene standards and strengthens the Group’s existing rigorous sanitation guidelines. In the run-up to the opening of Earl Heights Suites Hotel, a member of Radisson Individuals the hotel will implement the Radisson Hotel Group brand standards including the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol related to safety and security.

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Entertainment

TuneCore Launches Operations in Africa, Appoints Two Female Regional Executives

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TuneCore Jade Leaf and Chioma Onuchukwu

TuneCore, the leading digital music distribution and publishing administration company for independent artists, has launched operations in Africa. Jade Leaf has been hired as Head of TuneCore for Southern Africa and will share responsibility for key countries in East Africa with Chioma Onuchukwu, who has been hired as Head of TuneCore for West Africa. Both Leaf and Onuchukwu will report to Faryal Khan-Thompson, Vice President, International, TuneCore.

Onuchukwu will be based in Nigeria and oversee countries in West Africa including Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. She will also look after Tanzania and Ethiopia in East Africa.  Leaf’s territory encompasses Southern Africa, including South Africa, where she will be based, as well as Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Lesotho. Leaf will also manage TuneCore operations in East African countries Kenya and Uganda.

Said Onuchukwu, “I am elated to be joining a renowned, independent music distribution powerhouse, especially in an incredible era for music creators in Africa at a time when we are gaining global recognition and increasing momentum. I look forward to collaborating with and supporting local artists.”

Before joining TuneCore, Onuchukwu was Marketing Manager at uduX Music, a music streaming platform in Nigeria. There she worked directly with popular African artists such as Davido, Yemi Alade, Patoranking, Kizz Daniel and more.

Commented Leaf, “I am incredibly excited to join the team in a time where the global conversation is around independence and ownership. TuneCore opens up a world of potential for independent artists at every level of their careers. Africa is home to a diverse range of artists who are seeking a reliable distribution service who understands their local needs and can ultimately give them the opportunity to turn their art into commercial success.”

Previously, Leaf worked at Africa’s largest Pay TV operator, Multichoice as the Marketing Manager for Youth & Music Channels, where she led brand re-imaging and marketing efforts for Music TV giant Channel O. Before that, she worked at Sony Music Entertainment Africa, focusing on African artists and content, as well as numerous marketing campaigns & projects for local and international artists.

There has been a meteoric rise in the uptake of streaming services in Africa, the growth has been attributed to several factors such as an increase in internet penetration via smartphones, the entrance of international and local streaming platforms in key territories and its youth population – More than 60% of African’s are under the age of 25.

In 2020, TuneCore saw an increase in music releases globally, with many African artists opting to use the DIY Distributor – DJ Spinall and Small Doctor in Nigeria, Spoegwolf in South Africa, Mpho Sebina in Botswana and Fena Gitu in Kenya to name a few.

Stated Khan-Thompson, “Africa is an extremely exciting music market with a lot of potential for growth. By hiring Jade and Chioma to lead our efforts, TuneCore is well positioned to maximize opportunities for independent artists across the continent. Both Chioma and Jade bring a wealth of experience and genuine interest in helping artists make their dreams come true. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have two incredible women representing the TuneCore brand in the continent”

TuneCore

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IFC Invest in Liquid Telecom Bond to Support Broadband Connectivity in Africa

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IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, invested in Thursday’s bond issued by a subsidiary of Liquid Telecommunications Holdings Ltd., which will allow the telecoms and technology solutions company to expand access to broadband Internet and digital and cloud services across Africa, further facilitating the growth of the continent’s digital economy.

Proceeds from the bond issued by Liquid Telecommunications Financing PLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Liquid Telecommunications Holdings Ltd, will enable the company to refinance existing debt and free up funds to expand its digital infrastructure network across Africa, including in markets with low broadband penetration.

By developing digital infrastructure, Liquid Telecommunications, Africa’s largest independent fiber, data center and cloud technology provider, aims to increase digital connectivity and inclusion in Africa and support the region’s growing digital ecosystem.

IFC played an anchor role and subscribed to 16 percent of the bond, equivalent to $100 million, which was listed on Euronext Dublin, Ireland’s main stock exchange, on February 25, 2021. The issuance raised $620 million.

Internet access in Africa relies largely on mobile networks, many of which are enabled by wholesale connectivity providers such as Liquid Telecommunications. Broadband penetration is low across the continent, with a mobile broadband penetration rate of 34 percent and fixed broadband penetration of less than five percent in most countries across sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa.

“We are delighted that IFC has taken a significant anchor position in our new bond. In the countries in which we operate there are great opportunities to address under developed telecommunications and Internet access, as well as to accelerate the adoption of digital and Cloud-based services. Our refinance enables us to continue to invest in the African digital eco-system including driving penetration of digital and Cloud-based services to businesses who may not previously have had the resources to benefit from them, helping to bridge the connectivity divide, which is more crucial than ever in our current circumstances,” said Nic Rudnick, Liquid Telecom Group Chief Executive Officer.

“Our best chance at ensuring much-needed internet access for everyone in Africa, from large corporates and small businesses to individuals, is to invest in digital infrastructure. Our investment in the Liquid Telecom bond will help the company free up capital to further expand broadband access across Africa, laying a solid foundation for a faster, more resilient recovery,” said Stephanie von Friedeburg, Interim Managing Director and Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer of IFC.

To support Africa’s digital economy, which could be worth $180 billion by 2025, IFC provides financing to mobile network operators, independent tower operators, data centers and broadband connectivity providers. IFC also provides capital to help entrepreneurs and innovative businesses grow and works with financial institutions and telecommunications companies to speed the adoption of digital payments and lending to expand financial inclusion.

Source IFC

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