11 startups transforming commerce in North Africa

North Africa is entering a phase of maturity, and fueled by a digitally adept consumer demographic showing a strong inclination towards online retail, the e-commerce sector is poised for a surge across the region.

11 startups transforming commerce in North Africa

In recent times, North Africa has attracted substantial investor attention due to certain compelling factors. With a sizable, youthful population, increased digital consumption, favorable economic conditions, and concentrated tech expertise, notably in Egypt, competition among regional nations has intensified.

This entrepreneurial surge aligns with broader digital growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In 2022, Northern African startups secured $1.1 billion in funding, 23% of the continent's total, akin to Eastern Africa's performance.

Egypt led with $822 million, a "Big Four" African nation, boasting 37% YoY funding growth. Algeria and Tunisia also stood out, surpassing $100 million each. However, Morocco faced challenges, receiving only $18 million for its startups, a downturn from 2021.

In the first half of 2023, startups in the region collectively raised $465.1 million, according to BD Funding Tracker, which represents 35.8% of the continent's total from January to July. This underscores growing investor appeal in the region.

The region remains a sizable consumer market on the continent, with a tech-savvy shopper base keen on online shopping. Below, we highlight some of the startups facilitating this trend


Location: Cairo, Egypt

Co-founded in 2018 by Mohammed Fergany, Mohammed Atef, and Mustafa Raslan, ConvertedIn is an e-commerce marketing operating system. Unlike traditional tools, it employs advanced algorithms and real-time machine learning to scrutinize user behavior, optimize conversion funnels, and unlock retailers' full marketing potential.

Focused on emerging markets, including Saudi Arabia, the CEO cites favorable unit economics and lower customer acquisition costs compared to the U.S. and Europe. With a $3 million fundraising from Merak Capital in 2022, ConvertedIn is pushing its boundaries through expansion, R&D, and strategic hiring.

El Dokan

Location: Cairo, Egypt

Established in 2020 by Ahmed Maher, Mohammed Shirt, and Sherif Alaa, this startup employs "headless e-commerce technology" to build adaptable e-commerce structures. It caters not only to retailers but also targets software firms and developers aiding enterprises in rapid and cost-effective e-commerce store creation, boasting 300+ API endpoints.

In 2022, the startup secured US$550,000 in pre-seed funding from local and regional investors like EFG EV, Flat6Labs, 500 Global, and Hala Ventures.


Location: Cairo, Egypt

Formerly Voo, a logistics marketplace, now SideUp, was founded in 2019  and refocused on e-commerce support services like payments, shipping integration, and warehousing.

According to its CEO Waleed Rashed, the startup aimed at bridging the gap for neglected small merchants. SideUp's partner network enables sales in 45 countries, expanding the horizons for over 2,000 e-commerce businesses it serves. It offers cash collection, and credit access, and achieved over $500,000 monthly Gross Merchandise Volume. Securing $1.2 million in seed funding from Launch Africa VC and others, SideUp redefines e-commerce for the underserved.


Location: Tunisia

Launched in 2020 by Omane and Malek Mzabi, Drest specializes in the online retail of lifestyle products spanning fashion, beauty, and accessories. Drest is reshaping product distribution by offering a curated range from attire to cosmetics.

The Tunisia-based e-commerce startup secured $336,000 in May 2023 from 216 Capital Ventures, earmarked for expanding into the African market. This strategic move is set to elevate Drest's presence and accessibility in the region.


Location: Casablanca, Morocco.

B2B startup Chari, backed by Y Combinator, connects FMCG manufacturers to retailers. Co-founded by Ismael and Sophia Belkhayat in 2020, Chari facilitates orders and deliveries for traditional Moroccan stores. With over 20,000 onboarded businesses in Morocco, Tunisia, and Ivory Coast, it's a regional leader.

After a $5 million seed round in late-2021, Chari secured more funding, including $1M from Orange Ventures. It aims to expand services, capture market share, and explore embedded fintech. Notably, it became the first VC-backed startup with a payment license from Morocco's Central Bank. In July, Verod-Kepple Africa Ventures invested $1.5 million in Chari's growth plan.

Mobile Masr

Location: Cairo, Egypt

Founded in 2021 by Wael El Ashry, the startup is a deep-tech e-commerce marketplace exclusively focused on the trade of both pre-owned and brand-new mobile phones and tablets, accompanied by an array of complementary services. This platform offers diverse payment options and nationwide delivery.

Having secured an investment of $500,000 in the month of February, as affirmed by its CEO, these funds are strategically earmarked to establish MobileMasr's standing as a premier e-commerce portal specializing in the sale of used mobile phones and tablets. Simultaneously, the company is poised for expansion with the introduction of new products and services, underscoring its commitment to innovation.


Location: Casablanca, Morocco

Founded in 2018 by Bargach and Reda Sellak, WafR enables FMCG retailers to extend discounts via its platform, enhancing customer base growth. Presently with 20,000 grocery partners, the company aims for 50,000, facilitating intelligent promotions to bolster market share for FMCG clients.

Recently, the fintech and rewards startup, secured a $455,000 funding, adding to the previously raised $620,000, totaling over $1 million in their seed round.


Location: Cairo, Egypt

In 2021, Amir Aboul Fotouh founded Mazaya, a B2B e-commerce platform that's transforming the procurement of electronic goods for retailers and merchants. Through the user-friendly Mazaya App, businesses can source inventory from leading brands, benefitting from competitive pricing.

Mazaya has rapidly gained traction since its inception, collaborating with more than 6,000 retailers and successfully fulfilling 30,000 orders. This impressive performance has translated into a substantial gross merchandise value of $15 million. The platform boasts an extensive array of over 1,000 SKUs, providing a comprehensive selection for users.

The startup secured a pre-Seed funding round, raising $5 million in 2022. This injection of capital further underscores the potential and promise that Mazaya holds in reshaping B2B e-commerce.


Location: Cairo, Egypt

Founded in 2022 by Ahmed Atef, Mahmoud AlSilk, and Moataz Sami, Kenzz revolutionizes mass e-commerce in Egypt and MENA. The platform digitizes offline shopping into an interactive, discounted experience, with savings of up to 65%.

It thrives on a sustainable business model, bypassing excessive growth for direct sourcing from manufacturers, fostering user referrals, and consolidating deliveries. This model not only benefits consumers but also empowers local manufacturers and SMEs by offering data-driven growth opportunities. After a successful launch attracting diverse customers, Kenzz secured a $3.5 million seed round to deepen e-commerce adoption in the region.


Location: Cairo, Egypt

Launched in 2022 by Alaa Shalaby, Hassan Elshourbagi, and Mohamed Hanafy, Sharwa, a social commerce startup, streamlines household shopping for essentials like groceries and appliances via WhatsApp or its app.

Customers can buy individually or as a group, unlocking discounts of up to 40% compared to retail. Discounts activate when a customer invites others to join their purchase or enters an existing group. The startup secured a substantial $2 million pre-seed funding in August 2022, cementing its position in social commerce.


Location: Casablanca, Morocco

In 2022, Ahmed Badran and Ahmed Rashed founded the cross-border marketplace, headquartered in Morocco. It serves as a pivotal link between the vibrant Turkish fashion scene and the markets of the MENA region. Remarkably, within three months of its debut in Morocco, the startup achieved remarkable milestones, amassing over 100,000 app downloads and attracting well over 100, website visitors.

This impressive trajectory culminated in a pre-seed funding round. In December 2022, the company secured $350,000 in investment from Earn Rocket Investment Holding.

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