UAE tech start-up Zbooni secures $9.5m in latest funding round

Company will use the capital to grow its team, develop proprietary technology and expand customer base

Zbooni’s chief executive and co-founder Ramy Assaf. Courtesy Zbooni
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Zbooni, a technology start-up in the UAE that enables small and medium-sized enterprises to process payments and grow their online presence, secured $9.5 million in funding that will help fuel the company's regional expansion.

The Series A funding round began with an initial $5m closing from an undisclosed London-based institutional fund and has now incorporated a second tranche of $4.5m from regional and international investors, the company said on Tuesday.

Zbooni raised $1.1m in venture capital in 2019.

New and existing investors took part in the funding round. The company will use the new funding to hire new talent, develop proprietary technology, expand into new markets and cater to different customer segments, Zbooni said.

“This funding round welcomes new and existing investors to complement the business as it expands,” Ramy Assaf, chief executive and co-founder of Zbooni, said.

“We look forward to leveraging their depth of relevant first-hand expertise in building large-scale technology.”

Founded in 2016, Zbooni started as a chat commerce venture enabling payments through WhatsApp.

It provides services to a variety of businesses, with tools including invoicing technology, payment enablement, digital store creation and customer management support.

The technology platform supports about 4,000 SME clients and has allowed them to serve more than 150,000 end-customers thus far. Zbooni said it recorded a 600 per cent surge in its client base last year.

Start-ups in the Mena region raised $1.2 billion, or 64 per cent more funding, in the first half of 2021 compared to the previous year, according to data platform Magnitt. The UAE led the way in terms of deal numbers, with its start-ups securing 61 per cent of all Mena investments, the report found.

March Holding, a regional family office with interests in information and communication technology, e-commerce and payments infrastructure took part in the fundraising round. Enterprise Fund, a California-based VC and European private investors who have operated global payments and e-commerce businesses, also took part.

This funding round welcomes new and existing investors to complement the business as it expands
Ramy Assaf, chief executive and co-founder, Zbooni

Chalhoub Group, an existing investor, also participated in this round through its CCVA investment arm, Zbooni said.

The start-up expanded its footprint this year with new hires and opened additional regional offices.

“What started as an innovative way of capturing business payments via messaging apps is evolving into a wider solution, built with a focus on being mobile and simple to use,” Mr Assaf said.

Zbooni, which was formed at a six-month Facebook-sponsored accelerator programme, is backed by regional and international organisations, including Chalhoub Group, Middle East Venture Partners and B&Y Venture Capital.

The platform connects merchants with customers by providing an easy way to complete a sale. Businesses just need to download the app, set up an account, list products they wish to sell, then share the link with customers through messaging platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or Instagram direct messages.

Updated: September 28, 2021, 1:52 PM