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Sakneen raises $1.1 million seed round to transform home-buying and selling in the MENA region

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Sakneen Team (Source: Sakneen)

The property portal is on a mission to transform home-buying and selling in the region

Sakneen, the online portal that helps homebuyers search for properties, has raised $1.1 million in a seed funding round from global and local investors, key financial service providers and prominent angel investors spanning Egypt, MENA, the US, and Europe.

The oversubscribed seed round was led by Egypt’s Algebra Ventures with major participation from Sarwa Capital and Foundation Ventures. Among the investors was Hem+Spire a US based real estate private equity firm, Nakhla VC a Saudi based fund, and a number of angel investors from Google, BlackRock, and McKinsey among others. This comes on the heels of the start-up’s graduation from the Y Combinator program in August 2020, bringing their total funding to $1.25M.

In November 2020, Sakneen and Coldwell Banker Egypt, the largest real estate brokerage firm in the country, announced a strategic partnership to develop unique digital capabilities and offerings for both sellers and buyers.

“With the latest strategic investment from Sarwa Capital, the publicly listed financing group behind Contact Credit & ContactCars, we have firm backing by industry leaders and are well positioned to launch products across different verticals and delight our customers with new and unique experiences”, added Ramy Khorshed, CEO & co-founder of Sakneen.

The company was founded in late 2019 by Ramy Khorshed and Hussein El Kheshen with the vision of making the struggle of buying a home an easier and more enjoyable experience. As the real estate industry continues to develop, home buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to make one of the most important investment decisions of their lives due to the ever-increasing choices and possibilities. Sakneen.com is their guide to the right decision.

“It’s a multi-billion dollar opportunity in a region with strong demographics and growth. Also the very low technology penetration and lack of publicly accessible data creates a huge information asymmetry. Early adopters of data-driven tools have a tremendous opportunity and I think that’s what our backers are excited to help us deliver on”, said Ramy Khorshed CEO & co-founder of Sakneen.

Ramy Khorshed and Hussein El Kheshen

“Our incredible tech team are actively working on several new features that will be launched over the next few weeks, in addition to a couple of completely new products we’re excited to release shortly afterwards”, said Hussein El Kheshen CTO & co-founder of Sakneen.

“Sakneen brings unique efficiencies to the real estate market, which despite heavy VC funding, hasn’t seen enough disruption. Trying to find a home online today is often a frustrating experience, plagued by inaccurate listings and overzealous brokers. We believe Sakneen can meaningfully differentiate itself by re-inventing the search experience and managing the supply side in novel ways. Ramy and Hussein are both world-class founders with the right skill sets and domain expertise. We’re very excited to be part of their journey”, said Omar Khashaba, Principal at Algebra
Ventures.

Sakneen

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Wärtsilä signs Concession Agreement to develop, operate and maintain major 120 MW power plant project in Gabon

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From left: Nicolas Mathon, Director, Project Development, Africa and Europe, Wärtsilä Energy and Managing Director, Orinko S.A and Akim Daouda, CEO of Sovereign Fund of the Gabonese Republic ©FGIS

Wärtsilä, the technology group and Gabon Power Company (GPC), the subsidiary of the Sovereign Fund of the Gabonese Republic (FGIS) dedicated to energy and water, have on 22 September 2021 signed a Concession Agreement with the Government of Gabon for the development, supply, construction, operation and maintenance of a 120 MW gas power plant. Wärtsilä, jointly leading the project development with GPC, will build the plant under a full Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contract and will then operate and maintain the plant under a long-term 15-year Operation and Maintenance (O&M) agreement. The EPC contract and the O&M agreement will be signed in 2022 with Orinko S.A., the joint venture between Wärtsilä and GPC.

The plant will be located at the industrial site of Owendo, close to Libreville, the country’s capital. When commissioned, the plant will supply electricity to Société d’Energie et d’Eau du Gabon (SEEG), the Gabonese utility, under a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement. The project represents one of the largest of its kind in Sub-Sahara Africa and a sizeable energy infrastructure project for Gabon.

“There is currently a structural deficit between the supply capability and the demand for electricity, which is increasing year by year. This project will play an important role in bridging this deficit, and some 600,000 people will ultimately benefit from a more sustainable and economical electricity supply delivered to SEEG. The plant will replace rented generation assets by SEEG and bring significant benefits, in line with Gabon sustainability ambitions,” said Marcelin Massila Akendengue, General Director, Gabon Power Company.

“This is a major and very comprehensive project that will deliver sustainable energy at a competitive price. It highlights many of Wärtsilä’s strengths, including the efficiency and flexibility of our generating sets, our EPC capabilities, our project development skills with insight into the financing arrangements, and our lifecycle support through long-term O&M agreements,” said Nicolas Mathon, Director, Project Development, Africa and Europe, Wärtsilä Energy and Managing Director, Orinko S.A. “The project also emphasises the leadership role that Wärtsilä plays in moving the industry towards a decarbonised future by delivering solutions that enable a transition to renewable energy.”

The project is being developed under a Public Private Partnership framework, with the asset to transfer to the Gabonese authorities at the end of the concession agreement. It has the full support of the government of Gabon, with the Council of Ministers approval received in May 2021, and the Concession Agreement having received approvals by the country’s President, Prime Minister, and the relevant Ministries. When completed, the project will have a major impact on the Gabonese economy.

Wärtsilä’s installed base in West Africa comprises 440 plants with 946 engines producing 4928 MW in 34 countries. In Gabon, Wärtsilä has a long-term presence from projects delivered and contracted with SEEG and private energy intensive companies.

 

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Chipper Cash launches with free P2P money transfers in South Africa

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Chipper Cash Executives: Wiza Jalakasi, Vice President: Global Developer Relations & Pardon Mujakachi, Vice President: Strategy & Partnerships, Africa (Image: Supplied)

Chipper, the fastest growing African fintech start-up that facilitates free peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfers and instant cross-border payments in Africa, officially launched Chipper Cash to offer domestic P2P money transfers in South Africa. Chipper Cash will enable South Africans to enjoy free unlimited instant domestic money transfers, invest in cryptocurrencies, and buy and send airtime and data to loved ones.

Chipper was founded in 2018 by Ham Serunjogi (CEO) and Maijid Moujaled (President) and it is headquartered in San Francisco, USA. As Chipper Cash is experiencing rapid user adoption, Chipper has opened offices in multiple countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, United Kingdom and South Africa. The Chipper Cash app was created to make money transfers easy and efficient for Africans at scale, to increase access to financial services for the underbanked and digitising daily payments to ease the reliance on cash. The app’s money transfer services are easy, secure and fast, which allows people to safely and freely move money domestically and across the continent. People can instantly purchase airtime and data from leading South African network providers to send to friends and family. In addition, Chipper Cash allows people to buy, sell and transfer Bitcoin, Ethereum and USD Coin all in one app.

Having raised $100 million in a Series C funding round in June 2021, and with over 4 million users globally, up to 80,000 transactions processed per day, Chipper Cash has experienced exponential growth since its first launch. The South African launch brings its African network to a total of seven African countries, which include Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria.

“Domestic remittances are a lifeline for many families in South Africa. Over R157 billion moves between provinces every year, with people sending money to their families and friends. This is not only the result of the 7.7 million people who moved to other provinces for work, but it is the overall 24 million South Africans who send money to each other daily. Chipper Cash’s free, fast and easy domestic P2P service is now available to them all. We believe it gives South Africans the freedom to instantly send money anywhere in the country from their mobile phones,” said Pardon Mujakachi, Vice President: Strategy & Partnerships, Africa.

Chipper Cash’s speed, very low cost and user-friendliness, challenges the high fees, complicated processes, and slow transfer times of traditional money transfer. Its interface is intuitive, simple and makes sending money to friends and family as simple and instant as sending a text.

Upon downloading the app, new users will register a profile to get into the Chipper Cash ecosystem. The app’s services, however, are not accessible unless users are verified. This verification process is done through a simple and easy to follow, compliance process commonly referred to as the know-you-customer process, where users submit an identity document, such as an ID or a valid passport. After verification is complete, users can then connect their existing online bank account to their Chipper Cash profile and start transacting. All personal information and transaction data are stored under secure encryption to protect against any unauthorised access.

“We are very excited for South Africa to experience Chipper Cash and take advantage of the app’s features such as fast and safe P2P money transfers, buying discounted airtime and data, and investing in selected cryptocurrencies. Soon, we will be introducing additional features such as cross-border transfers across countries within our network. People living in South Africa will be able to send money easily and safely to their families and friends in other African countries. We believe that Chipper Cash will help formalise local and regional remittances that tend to be sent through informal channels, which can be expensive, unsafe and unreliable. Such a meaningful difference is true to the goals and vision of Chipper Cash’s founders,” concluded Mujakachi.

 

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Etihad Airways and Talabat, the MENA region’s leading food delivery platform team up to explore a range of exciting new initiatives

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Etihad Airways Group CEO Tony Douglas, and talabat CEO, Tomaso Rodriguez (Image: Etihad)

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, and talabat, the region’s leading food delivery and q-commerce platform, have signed a region-wide Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The agreement will see the two organisations collaborate on a range of initiatives that will benefit both Etihad Airways and talabat customers and employees.

The MoU, signed today at Etihad Headquarters in Abu Dhabi, by Etihad Aviation Group CEO, Tony Douglas and talabat CEO, Tomaso Rodriguez, heralds the start of the organisation’s participation in the Etihad Guest ‘Miles on the Go’ programme. Etihad Guest members can now earn and spend Etihad Guest Miles when ordering food, groceries and other essentials on the talabat platform. Members who have downloaded the Etihad Guest mobile app and have registered their eligible Visa cards can earn 1 mile for every AED 3 spent on the talabat platform using the linked card. The app will also prompt members to choose if they wish to earn miles or redeem miles on the transaction.

The MoU also signals greater ties between the organisations in the future, both of which have committed to exploring a broad range of innovative projects that will benefit both Etihad and talabat customers, members and employees across the MENA region.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, commented:Etihad has always been at the forefront of the travel industry, and today’s partnership with talabat demonstrates our commitment to providing an industry-leading loyalty offering that goes far beyond travel and becomes a full lifestyle programme. As an airline, we are consistently partnering with brands that will drive value for Etihad Guest members and reward them in the sky and on the ground more easily and efficiently.”

Tomaso Rodriguez, Chief Executive Officer, talabat, stated: “Our MoU with Etihad Airways brings together two leading players in two very competitive industries. As customer-centric organisations, we pride ourselves on finding new solutions to create the best customer experience – a key part of this MoU. We are looking forward to collaborating with the team at Etihad Airways to bring to life some of our regional innovations, such as talabat Mart, in new experiential ways, to surprise and delight our joint customers in the future.”

Customers of talabat who would like to start earning miles on Etihad Guest can sign up for free on etihadguest.com, while Etihad Guest members who would like to start earning and spending their miles through the talabat platform can download the Etihad Guest App and register their Visa cards on Miles on the Go.

 

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