A three-year-old company in Saudi Arabia that built an e-commerce platform for wholesalers has raised $30.5 million from backers including VentureSouq, a venture capitalist backed by the kingdom's Public Investment Fund.
Sary was founded in Riyadh in April 2018 by former Careem general manager Mohammed Aldossary, and Khaled Alsiari.
The company connects wholesalers of consumer goods directly to small and medium-sized retailers.
The application has served more than 30,000 verified retail businesses in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.
“Covid-19 was a catalyst for digital transformation and Sary was strongly positioned to provide the Supply Chain 2.0 that gives wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers instant accessibility and better visibility to buy and sell goods via a single platform,” Mr Aldossary said.
“Our focus has been on the FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] categories, but we believe it is just a stepping stone to reinvent the supply chain of the Saudi retail market that’s worth $165 billion.”
The rise in e-commerce amid movement restrictions to stem the spread of the pandemic last year meant global online sales rose to 19 per cent of total retail, the UN Conference on Trade and Development said in a report this year.
Business-to-business sales make up about 82 per cent of e-commerce transactions, it said.
Sary said the latest round of funding would help the company to expand its presence and its range of products and services.
It is also planning to integrate third-party financial services on to its platform, offering credit to buyers.
VentureSouq, which is backed by PIF through its Jada Fund of Funds, led the latest funding round along with Riyadh's STV and a Silicon Valley fund known as Rocketship.vc.
They have invested alongside current shareholders Ra’ed Ventures, MSA Capital, and Derayah VC.
“Core to VentureSouq’s overall FinTech thesis is the emerging trend of embedded financial services," said VentureSouq's co-founder and general partner, Suneel Gokhale.
"In Sary’s case, we see this move into credit as directly contributing to top-line growth, diversifying revenue streams and improving unit economics."
VentureSouq's managing partner, Maan Eshgi, said: “Sary is a great example of how tech start-ups in the kingdom are leading innovation, creating more jobs for Saudis and contributing to GDP growth."