valU CEO, Walid Hassouna and Karim Awad, Group CEO of EFG Hermes Holding
valU, MENA’s leading Buy-Now, Pay-Later (BNPL) lifestyle-enabling fintech platform, announced today that Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair, Salman Abdulaziz Alhokair, and Abdul Majeed Abdulaziz Alhokair (“Alhokair Family”) have entered into an agreement to acquire a 4.99% stake in valU through a capital injection of USD 12.4 million, signifying a valuation of USD 247.4 million for the company.
Currently subject to relevant regulatory approvals and satisfaction of certain conditions precedent, the transaction marks Alhokair Family’s first investment in a BNPL platform in Egypt, underscoring valU’s strength in the market and marking a key steppingstone for the platform to create strategic regional partnerships.
The transaction comes on the heels of valU’s entry into the Saudi market last week through FAS Finance, a joint venture (JV) with FAS Labs in which FAS Labs owns 65% while valU owns 35%. The launch of FAS Finance and the strategic partnership bring a lifestyle-enabling solution to Saudi shoppers, with valU offering greater affordability and value for customers, all available through one digital platform.
“We are thrilled to be further growing our partnership with the Alhokair Family. The transaction puts valU, the largest BNPL provider in Egypt, at a USD 247.4 million valuation, and is a testament to valU’s visible success story, business model, and potential for growth in Egypt and on a regional level,” said Karim Awad, Group CEO of EFG Hermes Holding. “We are proud to have grown a strong brand like valU that, since late 2017, has not only established itself as the leading BNPL platform but has also attracted the interest of the world’s largest retailer, Amazon, one of the most important brands globally, and now one of the region’s most prominent retail players, Alhokair,” concluded Awad.
valU is a fast-growing, innovative fintech platform in the MENA region that serves more than 574,000 app clients in Egypt, the Arab world’s largest consumer market. In its home country, valU currently boasts over 5,000 points of sale locations catering to hundreds of thousands of customers transacting in home furnishings, electronics, home appliances, fashion, auto spare parts, healthcare, education, and travel, among a wide array of other services. With its entry into the Saudi market, valU will be present across Alhokair’s expansive retail network of more than 1,000 stores as well as online on the VogaCloset and monobrand websites, including 14 in Saudi Arabia. It will also extend to other vendors, retail networks, and merchants to include and cover the entire Saudi market.
Alhokair Family’s agreement to acquire a stake in valU signals investors’ interest in the NBFI space in Egypt and puts it on the map as a leading innovator and exporter of financial inclusion solutions, at a time when inflationary pressures are on the rise in the country and the rest of the region.
“We are extremely proud of the fact that Alhokair Family is now a shareholder in valU. Preceded by the announcement of valU’s entry into KSA last week – our first new-market entry since we began operations out of Cairo 5 years ago – the acquisition agreement cements our solid partnership with Alhokair, a retail powerhouse and a perfect partner on our journey to expand across the region,” said Walid Hassouna, CEO of valU. “valU has definitely filled a financing gap in the Egyptian market and supported financial inclusion. The business model that we created strives to have a positive daily impact on hundreds of thousands of consumers, retailers, and service providers across the country,” concluded Hassouna.
Last month, EFG Hermes Holding and Amazon entered into an option agreement whereby Amazon agreed to acquire USD 10 million in EFG Hermes GDRs with the option to replace that investment into valU at a future date, translating into a stake of 4.255% of the issued share capital of valU.
Bloom joins Visa’s Fintech Fast Tack Programme
Bloom, the Y Combinator-backed digital banking app has become the first Sudanese company to join Visa’s selective Fintech Fast Tack Programme. Following its graduation as the first Sudanese company in the Silicon Valley accelerator’s history; Bloom has recently launched its waitlist, which saw more than 100,000 users sign up for access to the app. During just two months of operations, Bloom has onboarded more than 20,000 members – which is a significant milestone.
Sudan is one of the ten most populous countries in Africa with tremendous economic potential; and the Sudanese government has recently put the modernisation of the financial system at the heart of its agenda since most of its people are underbanked – 60% of the population are under the age of 24 – a youthful demographic that is increasingly tech-savvy. Digitisation can bridge the gap in bringing banking services to consumers as payment apps and mobile wallets have far greater reach than traditional banks. Hence, Bloom is uniquely positioned to unlock this opportunity in Sudan and the wider East Africa region.
Michael Seibel, Managing Partner at Y Combinator commented: “We are excited by our investment in Bloom, and we value the diverse, yet complementary skillsets of its experienced founding team. Their passion and understanding of the financial challenges faced by consumers in Sudan and the wider East Africa region positions them uniquely for success.”
Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme allows companies like Bloom to receive incentives – reduced costs, faster onboarding, marketing support, in addition to dedicated hands-on support to launch Visa’s swathe of products. Admission to Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme, the investment in Bloom by Visa, will see the fintech issue millions of Visa cards over the period, democratising access to international cards in Sudan.
Visa Country General Manager for Sudan and Libya, Ahmed Mohey said, “We are thrilled to have Bloom at Visa’s Fintech Fast Tack Programme. The suite of Visa’s products and services will provide customers with a secure, fast, and easy-to-use way to make online payments backed by the latest in security technology. Visa is taking the lead as a first mover in digital payments in Sudan. We are committed to being a part of Sudan’s economic transformation by bringing our global expertise and capabilities to its government and private-sector partners. Together with Bloom, we will continue to drive acceptance of digital payments while finding opportunities to launch new products and services to Sudanese customers and merchants.”
Merghani Mahgoub, Managing Director of Bloom states, “Being admitted to Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme is a compelling statement of intent from Visa and Bloom to drive adoption of Visa cards in Sudan, and the wider East Africa region. We have been deeply impressed by the Visa team and are excited to work with Visa in bringing our members state-of-the-art financial services, in a digital-first way.”
Future Females Launches Brand New Platform
Future Females is excited to announce the launch of their brand new platform! The Future Females platform is the first community-based learning experience for women who want to invest in themselves and their future dream business. It is a learning platform for females who know their businesses will only grow as fast as they do.
“Think of community-driven courses, events, discussions, and incubation to help female entrepreneurs build their future business and life, all in one place.” Future Females co-founder Lauren Dallas explains.
“We wanted to build the exact product that my co-founder Cerina and I wished we had when we started Future Females almost five years ago.”
The women-focused company has come a long way since inception in 2017. They now host events in over 40 cities worldwide, have 100 000 community members and have seen over 5000 women graduate from their online Business School.
So far more than 4000 women and men have signed up to the waitlist and are hoping to be amongst the first to test the new platform. Co-founder Lauren Dallas also explained that the most engaged women on the waitlist will become founding members of the new venture. Founding members will contribute fundamentally to the development and design of this new way of online learning.
The five key benefits of e-learning built for women
Because the platform is all about community, there are five key customer benefits:
- No More Overwhelm! This new platform offers one course per business strategy (instead of hundreds of options which only makes things more confusing). No more second-guessing what the right next move is, or how to do it.
- Speed of results We know that time is a scarce asset for any business owner. This platform will allow entrepreneurs to structure their business strategy, helping them get the results they need in their business – far quicker than going it alone.
- The Tribe We pride ourselves in being an interactive community who truly understands the journey – all the ups and downs, the fears and, of course, the wins.
- Clarity: Clarity of direction in any business is essential. This platform will give entrepreneurs the exact courses and content they need to create a clear, effective path for business growth.
- The “I CAN DO IT” energy! Future Females is built fundamentally around this concept. Anyone CAN absolutely do it with the right support, resources, and guidance. The world is your oyster, and your dream business is ready and waiting for you to make it a reality.
The key product features of the platform are courses, events, challenges, groups and the ‘Future Females Fund’. Members can contribute and be eligible to receive money, mentorship and incubation through the Future Females Fund.
Learning from the best
The e-learning platform for female entrepreneurs will launch in early September this year. It will feature courses from renowned and achieved entrepreneurs, business owners and influencers. Some South African creators offering courses on the new platform include influencer Babalwa Mcaciso, creative Mike Sharman and tech-entrepreneur Arlene Mulder.
Malawi receives US$14.2M drought recovery insurance payout
In a ceremony presided over by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Malawi, Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the African Risk Capacity Group, in the presence of Representatives of Partners organisations (Ambassador of Germany to Malawi), and of the UN system (WFP and UNDP country directors), delivered a symbolic US$14.2 million insurance payout cheque to the Malawi Government.
“I assured Malawians that we have enough food for everyone and even those few whose crops had not done well would be provided for. My confidence came from the fact that we had taken this insurance policy to support Malawians in time of need. And I want to thank the ARC Group for honouring the agreed payout,” said His Excellency, Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi.
The Government of Malawi had a drought insurance policy, supported by the African Development Bank through its Africa Disaster Risk Financing (ADRiFi) Programme Multi-Donor Trust Fund. Many regions of Malawi, particularly the Central and Southern regions, are experiencing severe food insecurity caused by drought-related events like erratic rainfall and crop failure.
The Governments of the United Kingdom, through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and Switzerland, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Corporation contributed to the ADRiFi trust fund. The Government of Germany, through KFW Development Bank/Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, as well as the International Fund for Agricultural Development subsidized Malawi’s insurance policy premiums.
During the 2020/21 season, the country experienced an unprecedented dry start to the production season, leading to higher rates of sowing failure in significant parts of the Southern and the Central Regions as modelled by Africa RiskView, the African Risk Capacity Group’s (ARC) risk modelling and early warning tool. This, combined with mid-season erratic rainfall conditions in most parts of the country resulted in a modelled number of people affected estimated at about 6.4 million, the second-highest number of affected people, since 2001.
“ARC’s drought insurance mechanism is an innovative pan-African tool that provides our member states with the funds needed to better plan, prepare and respond to climate-related disasters,” said ARC Group Board Chairperson, Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping. “The payout to the Government of Malawi will not only release pressure on public finances but it will also bring nutritional and financial support to those that have been affected by the droughts caused by an increasingly variable and changing climate,” he added.
“Malawi is a signatory of the ARC Treaty and a key partner in the region. We have no doubt that the funds disbursed will support the country in scaling up its response to the drought-induced challenges,” said United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and ARC Group Director General, Ibrahima Cheikh Diong.
“ARC’s drought insurance product ensures the swift release of funds when they are needed most, allowing them to be channelled effectively to respond to a crisis. The most vulnerable in the country, who are facing severe hunger, will now have access to food relief,” declared Lesley Ndlovu, CEO of ARC Limited, the insurance affiliate of the ARC Group.