World Bank's IFC leads $25m funding round for Egypt's e-commerce platform Brimore

Funds will be used to grow the company's products and suppliers, boost hiring and drive its expansion across Africa

Brimore co-founders Mohamed Abdulaziz and Ahmed Sheikha launched the company in 2017. Photo: Brimore
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Brimore, a Cairo-based social e-commerce platform connecting suppliers to community sellers, closed its series A round of $25 million.

The funding round was led by the World Bank's International Finance Corporation and early stage investment venture capital company Endure Capital.

The money will be used to grow the company's products and suppliers, double the number of employees and boost the social commerce app's reach throughout Africa, Brimore said on Monday.

Egyptian FinTech Fawry, FinTech investor Flourish, Endeavor Catalyst Fund and existing Brimore investors such as Algebra Ventures, Disruptech, Khawarizmi Ventures and Vision Ventures also participated in the funding round.

“In the past three years, we have focused on building a smart and reliable infrastructure that enables the masses to do their commerce businesses, wherever they are and whatever they have,” said Mohamed Abdulaziz, Brimore’s chief executive and co-founder.

“We will be using the fresh funds to scale our infrastructure, enabling many more people to continue their journey of 50 times growth by 2023, and opening this gate of hope and opportunity to other people in African markets.”

Brimore has a network of 75,000 active sellers and 300 suppliers that offer more than 8,000 products in categories that include household goods, personal care, fashion, electronics, furniture and food and beverages.

The start-up aims to operate in three countries and strengthen its physical logistics capabilities by 2023. It is considering expanding to Kenya and Morocco in 2022, co-founder and chief business officer Ahmed Sheikha said in an earlier interview.

Brimore, which merges the words “bring” and “more”, is tapping into a trillion-dollar industry globally that uses social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to enable e-commerce.

Social commerce sales are expected to hit $1.2 trillion globally by 2025, from $492 billion in 2021, according to Accenture. With more than 1.25 million online users, the social e-commerce market in Egypt alone is estimated to be worth $14.8bn by 2024, according to TechCrunch.

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In the past three years, we have focused on building a smart and reliable infrastructure that enables the masses to do their commerce businesses, wherever they are and whatever they have
Mohamed Abdulaziz, Brimore’s chief executive and co-founder

Brimore raised $3.5m in a pre-series A round in May 2020, after securing $800,000 in a seed round in April 2019.

Set up in 2017, Brimore built a network of about 75,000 resellers to cover 27 cities within Egypt, with a focus on rural and remote areas.

The company enables budding entrepreneurs to leverage its infrastructure and proprietary technology to boost their market presence. It also allows its sellers, who are mostly women, to unlock an alternative income and become local business leaders through online and offline sales channels.

“Our ambition is to create a global model where market access is democratised through the power of people. Our promise is that we will use technology, operations and creative financing models to make it true,” Mr Sheikha said.

The IFC, a global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries, disclosed in August last year that it was considering an equity investment of $5m in Brimore, primarily to expand the company’s operations.

More than nine in 10 Brimore sellers are women while its consumers are mainly in rural areas. Photo: Brimore

“This is our largest direct investment in social commerce so far,” said Walid Labadi, IFC’s country manager for Egypt.

“IFC’s co-lead investment in Brimore aims to help the platform continue to democratise access to e-commerce, increase economic opportunities for women and support the development of the local manufacturing sector in the country.”

The start-up began with five employees and has since grown to about 700. Its network of sellers comprises 92 per cent women, with more than 70 per cent of its business coming from rural areas outside Cairo and Alexandria.

“Every decade comes a company that fuses technology, operations excellence and human capital to unlock unprecedented impact and value,” said Tarek Fahim, managing partner at Endure Capital.

FinTech Fawry acquired a minority stake in Brimore at a value of 15.7m Egyptian pounds ($1m) in September last year. The acquisition allows Fawry to introduce its network of 230,000 merchants to Brimore’s distribution platform while Brimore's clients will be able to gain access to Fawry’s digital payments and financial services.

Updated: January 31, 2022, 12:39 PM