Dubai e-commerce start-up Opontia raises $42m to fuel growth

The new funding round was a mix of equity and venture debt with STV, Mena’s largest venture capital fund, leading the equity investment

Manfred Meyer (L) and Philip Johnston, co-founders of Opontia, are committed to support e-commerce entrepreneurs in realising the potential of their brands. Photo: Opontia
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Opontia, a Dubai e-commerce aggregator, raised $42 million to fund its expansion into new markets as demand for e-commerce rises in the post-Covid era.

The new funding round – also known as Series A – was a mix of equity and venture debt, with STV, the largest venture capital fund in the Middle East and North Africa, leading the equity investment.

Existing investors Raed Ventures and Global Founders Capital have doubled down in the latest round, the company said on Wednesday. New equity investors also joined the funding round, including New York fund Upper 90 and Dubai venture capital fund VentureSouq.

We are committed to continuing to support e-commerce entrepreneurs in realising the potential of their brands
Philip Johnston, chief executive of Opontia

The new funding round supports the company’s “robust investment case” and will enable it to expand its presence in key growth markets, said Philip Johnston, chief executive of Opontia.

“We are committed to continuing to support e-commerce entrepreneurs in realising the potential of their brands. Through Opontia’s support, entrepreneurs can achieve scale and development as we lead on daily operations while we enable them to continue to benefit from the growth in their brands,” Mr Johnston said.

The proceeds from Venture debt account for more than 50 per cent of the company's $42m round. It has been funded by Partners for Growth, a billion-dollar San Francisco venture debt fund.

Since its launch in March, Opontia has expanded beyond Dubai and launched offices in Poland, Turkey and Saudi Arabia – the Arab world's biggest economy. In the coming months, it aims to incorporate offices in more high-potential growth markets including Egypt, Nigeria and Pakistan.

It buys smaller e-commerce businesses and scales them, according to its website. It also allows entrepreneurs to profit from future growth.

The company has grown its headcount to more than 50 people since inception, acquired four brands and signed term sheets with 15 more brands.

The e-commerce market is rapidly augmenting across central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. But the pace of innovation, entrepreneurship and growth remains less mature than in some western markets, said Manfred Meyer co-chief executive of Opontia.

“Opontia will continue to enable entrepreneurs and brands to grow and solidify their market share, while generating sustainable economic returns that will enable Oponita to continue to grow and support more brands,” Mr Meyer said.

Ahmad Alshammari, general partner of STV, and Saed Nashef, founding partner of Read Ventures, will join the board of Opontia.

The region's e-commerce market received a further boost last year as homebound users began to shop online amid the pandemic.

Start-ups in the Mena region secured $1.03bn in funding last year, up 13 per cent compared with 2019, according to data platform Magnitt. E-commerce start-ups, along with FinTech companies, received the bulk of the funding.

On Wednesday, UAE technology start-up RemotePass said it raised a seven-figure Pre-Series A round. It was led by Beco Capital with participation from Wamda Capital, Khawarizmi VC, Flat6Labs, Wealth Well and a syndicate of Saudi investors.

Launched last year, RemotePass helps companies hire new staff.

The fresh capital will be used to “further enhance and streamline the process for companies to onboard and pay their remote teams globally”.

The investment will serve primarily for the company's geographic expansion and building a more efficient infrastructure, RemotePass said.

“Covid has demonstrated that there is an increase in productivity when working remotely … today, we see more demand on remote talent than ever and companies who resist this change will simply miss out on talent,” the start-up’s co-founder Kamal Reggad said.

“RemotePass enables talent to work from anywhere and the raising round has given us validation and confidence to further grow the brand.”

RemotePass offers companies tools to employ talent anywhere while providing their teams access to benefits and financial services, regardless of their location. It currently serves more than 80 global and regional companies, assisting them in managing their workforce in over 120 countries.

Updated: December 09, 2021, 4:45 AM