The Egyptian software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup SideUp just raised $1.2 million during a funding round that counted on the participation of Launch Africa VC, Riyadh Angels, and 500 Global.
This Middle East company provides a support platform for e-commerce businesses that allows them to keep track of their orders and establish connections with efficient couriers to deliver their goods to customers as fast as possible.
SideUp partnered with well-reputed logistics companies within the region such as FedEx and SMS Express to make this happen. The company also offers marketing, fulfillment, and warehousing services to e-commerce companies regardless of their size.
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The SideUp application provides access to a dashboard that facilitates the task of keeping track of the status of orders for e-commerce business owners. It can be integrated with the most well-known e-commerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce.
In addition, the company provides financing to the businesses it serves via a partnership with Dayra – a fintech startup that offers digital banking solutions to corporate customers in Egypt.
E-Commerce in the MENA Region Keeps Expanding
Even though the online commerce space in the Middle East keeps growing in the region, the space remains heavily fragmented with thousands of small businesses and individuals selling their goods on the internet.
The needs of small e-commerce businesses are typically ignored by couriers as their shipping volumes are not large enough to attract their attention. This is the market that SideUp attempts to serve by introducing a solution that caters to their needs.
This could be one of the reasons why the e-commerce landscape in the country has not been growing at the same pace as in other corners of the MENA region.
“There is a lot of talk about how e-commerce is scaling, but still, we are not empowering enough of those (micro, small and medium enterprises) that are selling online. Merchants need many services and a complete ecosystem to be successful”, the Chief Executive Officer of SideUp, Waleed Rashed, told TechCrunch in an interview.
According to data from Go-Globe, e-commerce sales in the Middle East and North African region – also known as MENA – are expected to reach $48.6 billion in 2022 – nearly twice as much as this corner of the world produced in online revenue four years ago.
Meanwhile, online sales in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a coalition of countries that includes Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE, are expected to reach $52 billion, with Saudia Arabia being the most important market in terms of revenue accounting for nearly 40% of that total.
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Egypt’s e-commerce user penetration in 2021 was among the lowest in the continent at 46.5% compared to 80.2% in Saudi Arabia and 69.4% in the UAE. As for the value of the Egyptian e-commerce market, estimates indicate that it could be worth around $7.5 billion in 2022, growing by 30% compared to last year.
In June this year, Khazenly, a company that provides warehousing and fulfillment services to e-commerce vendors in Egypt as well, raised $2.5 million in seed funding in a round co-led by VCs Arzan Venture Capital and Shorooq Partners.
SideUp Plans to Expand to Saudi Arabia and Another Two Markets in 2023
SideUp takes its support platform to another level by also providing access to an account manager who can suggest which of the company’s solutions is a better fit for the customer depending on their specific needs.
According to figures provided by the tech-focused magazine, SideUp is reportedly catering to 2,000 e-commerce businesses and has been generating $500,000 per month in gross merchandise volumes (GMVs).
SideUp plans to use its recently obtained funding to expand to a new market – Saudi Arabia. They also plan to open their headquarters in this country and enter another two nations before the end of 2023. According to the company’s LinkedIn website, SideUp has 37 employees.
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