Muhammad Nowkhaiz, Co-founder & CXO, Muhammad Talha Ansari, Co-founder & CEO, Wahaj Ahmed, Co-founder-CRO & Acting CHRO Image Credit: Supplied

Retailo, the fastest growing start-up in Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan (MENAP) which is digitizing the region’s retail supply chains, has raised $36 million in its Series A investment round which was a mix of equity and venture debt. Retailo is a regional B2B marketplace in MENAP and has raised a total investment of $45 million in less than 1.5 years of operations, a landmark for any start-up in the region.

Retailo’s Series A round has attracted leading investors with proven track records of impactful investments. The round was led by Silicon Valley-based Graphene Ventures which was an investor of tech giants Snapchat and Lyft.

Graphene is joined by leading investors that include 500 Global, Agility, Aujan, Tech Invest Com and Mentor’s Fund, all of which have the relevant exposure and investments in the retail industry’s technology companies. The venture debt was raised from Nahda Fund - one of the Middle East’s first venture debt funds which is backed by IMM Investment Global, based in Hong Kong. Additionally, Shorooq Partners, Abercross Holdings, Arzan VC, AgFunder also participated in the round as repeat investors which demonstrates their continuing belief in Retailo’s successful future.

Retail in MENAP is a $500 billion industry and consists of over 10 million small businesses. However, the majority of this retail industry is informal and undigitized. Retailo aims to champion these small business owners by building a suite of technologies around them. The company has begun this via their B2B community commerce platform which is used by over 50,000 retailers monthly.

On Retailo’s mobile platform, small businesses can find a wide catalogue of over 5,000 SKUs which are delivered to their doorstep under 24 hours. They can also avail Buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) services, which give them flexible payment options and credit lines.

Headquartered in Riyadh, Retailo was founded by former Careem executives Talha Ansari, Wahaj Ahmed and Mohammad Nowkhaiz in July 2020 with a unique regional launch. Growth has been quick and in only 18 months Retailo has scaled to 10+ cities in 3 countries: KSA, UAE and Pakistan.

Nabil A. Borhanu, partner at Graphene Ventures said, “We are impressed with what Retailo has achieved in an astonishingly short time. Their vision is both ambitious and inspiring and we believe that partnering with them is a sound business investment and also a chance to truly improve the lives of millions of people.”

The Series A funding will help Retailo move into the next phase of expansion into new geographies, verticals and products. Retailo’s CEO Talha Ansari, said, “The retail sector serves 700 million persons in MENAP, contributes almost 20% to the GDP and employs tens of millions. By providing technology solutions to this underserved market, we are not only improving lives but also uplifting the economy of the entire MENAP region.”