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Wuilt raises $535,000 seed round for it’s Arabic-Supported E-Commerce Platform

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Wuilt Team (Source: Wuilt)

Wuilt, a SaaS Arabic website builder where users can create their own professional websites in 5 minutes, has successfully raised a seed round worth $535,000. The investment round included the participation of a UK-based MENA Technology Fund, DAAL VC, prominent angel investors in the MENA and a follow-on funding from Flat6Labs Cairo. The new capital will be deployed to deepen its capabilities and expand its footprints in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Since its launch in 2019, Wuilt has been working to provide new and existing customers and businesses across the MENA region with easy-to-use and affordable options for launching and scaling their digital presence especially in the field of Arabic e-commerce. The company currently serves 30,000+ users in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Co-founded by Ahmed Rostom, Mohamed Hegazy and Mahmoud Metwaly, Wuilt’s website building platform was curated to have all the necessary tools and components of a professional website at one’s fingertips. Enabling even those with little knowledge of website building to easily create and manage their Arabic website.

“We came across many friends and businesses struggle to get a professional website designed to their style and design especially in Arabic. This highly motivated us as a team to bridge this gap by providing a solution and hence Wuilt was created and launched,” said Ahmed Rostom, CEO of Wuilt. Today, Wuilt’s all-in-one Arabic platform offers a range of features to fit businesses of all sizes and across all industries. Wuilt takes the hassle out of web designing and saves you time. In minutes, your business can have a sleek, and professional website.”

With the emergence and continuous spread of the pandemic, many businesses were forced to shift their operations online in order to stay active. Some of them had to either pay huge amounts to web development agencies, or had to collaborate with freelancers who may or may have not been up to the task.

“We are delighted to have leading investors believe in our business model and provide the necessary advice and support to progress our growth potentials. We look forward to working closely with them and successfully achieve our short term and long-term objectives,” said Ahmed.

“We witnessed a spike in the number of users and have seen a continuous increase in the number of users intending to shift their operations online since the onset of Covid-19. Our strategy is to provide the best solutions for all businesses in any sector, particularly, extending our platform to entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and small businesses,” continued Ahmed.

In addition to launching its e-commerce platform, Wuilt is planning to deploy some of its new funding to expand its presence in Saudi Arabia, which comprises nearly 30% of its customer base.

Wuilt joined Flat6labs’ Cairo accelerator in 2019 where they received huge support and ended the cycle by doubling their customer base. “Flat6labs has been a true partner to Wuilt,” Ahmed added. Wuilt has also been part of the MISK500 Accelerator, an accelerator powered by 500 Startups, in February 2020.

“Flat6Labs has been a true believer in Wuilt since they first pitched their business, and we’ve been lucky to partner with them early-on. The promising traction to date, the huge market opportunity in the MENA region and the amazing team behind Wuilt, were true assurances for us to increase our exposure to Wuilt in their second round. We wish the team all the best and look forward to continuing to support the business till it reaches its true potential”, said Marie-Therese Fam, Managing Partner of Flat6Labs Cairo.

“We’re really excited to be part of this journey with Ahmed, Mohammed, Mahmoud and the entire team. We believe in the early traction they’ve achieved, but more importantly the functionality and roadmap is what will make Wuilt a success in the coming period,” commented Omar Hassan, Managing Partner at MENA Tech Fund.

“OQAL Saudi Arabia has helped Wuilt a lot by connecting us to qualified and ready-to-invest angel investors,” Ahmed Rostom, CEO of Wuilt Abdulrahman Alqahtani, CEO of DAAL VC, said: “Innovative startups equipped with the right team who are focused on excelling in their journey are part of the qualities we at DAAL look for in our investments. In Wuilt we found it all. Enabling SMEs by providing them with state-of-the-art technology to create their business’ digital frontier is not an easy task. The market that Wuilt is serving is considered to be the future of most of our regional economies. With robust solutions and scalable technology, we believe Wuilt will become a great success story in the near future.”

To cope with today’s fast-paced environment, Wuilt’s automatic platform generates fully functioning professional websites for businesses and individuals almost instantly. Users can choose between different pre-designed section blocks, create a multilingual website with just the click of a button, build a beautiful website that’s free of technical and design errors, select from different style combinations and diverse section designs that are tailored to fit any field, with dozens of customizable color palettes, and multiple font combinations to build a clean polished layout that guarantees a vibrant professional website.

Also Read Closing The Gender Gap: An Interview with Dream Girl Global (DGG) Founder, Precious Oladokun

Issued by Wuilt

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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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North Ladder Secures $5 Million Series A Financing Round To Accelerate Global Expansion

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North Ladder Team (Source: Siddharth Sudhakar)

North Ladder (previously called BuyBack Bazaar), a UAE based secured trading platform for pre-owned luxury assets and electronics, today announced a $5 million Series A funding round led by regional venture capital firm BECO Capital. The new investment will help the company scale up its technology platform, enhance customer experience and pursue further geographic expansion.

The homegrown start-up also revealed that it will begin operating under the new brand name North Ladder effective immediately, representing the company’s strategy of charting new markets and supporting individuals across the globe in their endeavour to elevate their financial situation. The disruptive and innovative technology platform is the first of its kind, providing access to verified buyers of second-hand goods and instant cash. North Ladder currently enables users to sell electronics such as phones, laptops, tablets, and smart watches, as well as luxury assets including watches and cars, with a unique option of buying it back within a few months.

The Series A financing builds on an exceptional year for North Ladder which saw rapid growth of its clients, network of buyers and corporate partnerships. To date, the platform has witnessed over 15,000 transactions in the UAE, with over 85 different nationalities served while earning an impressive 4.9/5 customer satisfaction rating. In 2021, the start-up is looking to establish its presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, with a focus on scaling the platform significantly in the next 18 to 24 months.

“North Ladder has demonstrated tremendous success with its unique model of helping customers access immediate funds against their assets. The provision of a seamless and trusted digital platform for the sale of pre-owned goods has immense socially transformative potential at a global scale. We are excited about partnering with them to take their services to the next level,” said Dany Farha, CEO & Managing Partner, BECO Capital.

The company recently appointed Sandeep Shetty, former Managing Director of the core ride hailing business at Careem, as Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of North Ladder. Prior to Careem he also led the digital transformation program at Emirates NBD and has held leadership positions at McKinsey & Company and GE Capital across India, the United States and the Middle East. Sandeep joins the leadership team of co-founders Pishu Ganglani and Ricky Husaini who together bring years of prior global start-up, financial services, technology and operations experience.

“Our exciting partnership with the region’s leading investor BECO Capital gives us the opportunity to scale operations in the UAE and expand to other strategic markets, with the mission of meaningfully impacting people across all strata of society,” said Sandeep Shetty of North Ladder. “Our global auction brings professional buyers from around the world to compete and provide local customers with the best prices and no hidden surprises.”

Since its launch in 2018, North Ladder has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 innovative start-ups in the MENA region” by PayPal backed accelerator, Village Capital and awarded as an Innovator by Entrepreneur Middle East.

 

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