Fintech startup Chari.ma raises US$5m for its expansion plan

MOROCCOChari.ma, a fintech and e-commerce startup, has raised US$5 million in the largest venture funding round in the country this year and among the biggest-ever seed funding rounds in the North African nation.

The funding round was jointly led by Rocket Internet, Global Founders Capital and P1 Ventures with participations from Plug and Play, Y Combinator, Village Capital, MetLife Foundation, Orange Digital Ventures, Air Angels, SPE Capital, Pincus Private Equity and Reflect Ventures.

The Chandaria family, Propertyfinder CEO and founder Michael Lahyani, and the management company of an American Ivy League university also joined the round.

The money it has raised now will be used to expand Chari and Karny to Frencophone Africa. In addition, Chari plans to embed financial services such as digital payment, money transfer and buy-now-pay-later in its product roadmap.

According to Chari.ma, it took four weeks to close the full seed round that values it at US$70 million.

This is the first time many of these investors, including Global Founders Capital, Plug and Play, Orange Digital Ventures and Village Capital, have invested in a startup in Morocco.

“We are now focusing on achieving our short-term targets to raise a significant Series A in six to nine months.”

Chari.ma had previously disclosed raising funding from Y Combinator, Plug and Play and Orange Digital Ventures.

The startup was founded by the husband-wife duo of Ismael Belkhayat and Sophia Alj in January 2020. It directly connects store owners and retailers to wholesalers in the FMCG sector. The startup seeks to addresses the procurement issues of the 300,000 grocery stores of Morocco and Tunisia.

“We have carefully selected the VCs of this seed round based on their ability to help us build a great business. We are now focusing on achieving our short-term targets to raise a significant Series A in six to nine months,” said Belkhayat, the startup’s CEO.

Chari partners with FMCG multinationals and local manufacturers to distribute their goods to local mom and pop shops in less than 24 hours. It also provides payment facilities and financial services through the recent acquisition of Karny.ma.

Chari was incubated within the family holding H&S Invest Holding before joining the ranks of STATION F in Paris. It is currently used by more than 10,000 grocery stores in Morocco.

Morocco has seen a little over half a dozen startups get venture funding this year, as per data collated by The Capital Quest. Most of the venture deals in the country this year have been in the range of US$250,000 to US$700,000.

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