By Tage Kene-Okafor
Last month, MaxAB, the Egyptian B2B e-commerce platform that serves food and grocery retailers, raised one of the largest Series A on the continent, to the tune of $40 million. Today, it has raised a $15 million extension from existing investors — RMBV, IFC, Flourish Ventures, Crystal Stream Capital, Rise Capital, Endeavour Catalyst, Beco Capital and 4DX Ventures — bringing its total Series A fundraise to $55 million.
The company, founded by Belal El-Megharbel and Mohamed Ben Halim in 2018, manages procurement and grocery delivery to shops in Egypt. Store owners can use the platform to purchase goods, request delivery or logistics to move the goods, and access a customer support team.
When CEO El-Megharbel spoke to TechCrunch during its first Series A tranche, he said MaxAB, which operates in Egypt alone, was looking to expand across the Middle East and North Africa besides launching new product offerings and growing its team.
Today’s announcement marks MaxAB’s first step toward regional scale. The startup is announcing the acquisition of Morocco-based B2B e-commerce and distribution platform WaystoCap for an undisclosed amount.
Niama El Bassunie co-founded WaystoCap with Mehdi Daoui, Anis Abdeddine and Aziz Jaouhari Tissafi in 2015. The company was originally a cross-border trade platform for transacting business goods in Africa. That business model got WaystoCap into Y Combinator’s Winter batch in 2017, making it the first company accepted from Morocco. The company subsequently raised a $3 million seed round.
WaystoCap took its cross-border services to Ivory Coast and Togo, and at some point, was processing over $3 million worth of transactions per quarter. However, since its pivot to a similar model to MaxAB, in that it connects retailers with suppliers across Morocco, WaystoCap has pulled out from both countries while growing to a network of over 8,000 retailers in Morocco.
El-Megharbel mentioned to TechCrunch that MaxAB’s plan to move into Morocco coincided with WaystoCap’s bid to raise new funding (the last time the company took venture capital was in 2017) and push further into the Moroccan market. But both companies agreed to work together rather than compete with each other.
“I love the team. They share the same values and they’re on a mission that is using a tech-enabled supply chain to optimize food distribution across the continent,” he said in an interview. “For us, our strategy is to build a global team that can think local and execute properly. And we figured out that they’re already a perfect fit for that.”
While the acquisition signals MaxAB’s move into Morocco, it also shows the company’s entry into the Maghreb markets — Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, where there’s little or no contest.
MaxAB says more than 70,000 retailers across both platforms will “benefit from its technology, expanded end-to-end supply chain solutions and business intelligence tools as well as WaystoCap’s knowledge and expertise.”
El Bassunie will take over the position as the managing director at MaxAB Morocco. Commenting on the acquisition of her startup, she said, “… We are thrilled to play a pivotal role in the new all-star team being created and led by experienced, innovative entrepreneurs to establish a regional market leader in food and grocery supply. We are looking forward to continuing our close working relationship with our new team and taking the business to its next phase.”
The Maghreb market is new territory for MaxAB and the acquisition positions it as the most funded and largest B2B e-commerce platform for retailers and suppliers. Morocco’s growing tech hub offers huge potential and the acquisition of WaystoCap empowers MaxAB to become a trulyglobal team with a targeted local approach, setting the company on track to be the leading B2B retail and grocery platform in the Middle East and Africa.
“At the end of the day, what we want to do is build a tech-enabled supply chain, in all the African countries, in the Middle Eastern countries, and then connect them together. That’s where the magic happens. This is where we can actually have a real impact by putting the right amount of food at the right place at the right time, and minimizing the waste which MENA cannot afford,” said MaxAB CEO El-Meghabel.
MaxAB’s acquisition of WaystoCap is the second local cross-border acquisition that has played out in Africa this week. On Monday, Nigeria and Canada-based mobility startup Plentywaka announced the acquisition of Stabus, its counterpart in Ghana, for an undisclosed amount. From a narrower consolidation perspective, Kenyan consumer experience platform Ajua acquired Kenyan AI and ML messaging and payments company WayaWaya, early in April.
WaystoCap is also the second YC-backed company in Africa to exit, after Paystack got bought by Stripe for more than $200 million last October.