Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 September 2019

Saudi Arabian digital grocery firm Nana gets new capital injection

Middle East Venture Partners and Impact46 among funders providing $6.6m for retail tech start-up's growth

Digital grocery firm Nana Direct is looking to expand. Getty Images
Digital grocery firm Nana Direct is looking to expand. Getty Images

Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) and Impact46 have invested in Nana Direct, a major online grocery buying and delivery platform serving 13 cities across Saudi Arabia.

The $6.6 million (Dh24.2m) deal marks the debut investment for the partnership between MEVP, a Middle East-focused venture capital company that invests in the early and growth stages of companies, and Impact46, an asset manager in Riyadh focused on tech space. Other investors include Watar Partners, Saudi Venture Capital (SVC) and Wamda Capital.

Mobile-only company Nana Direct’s technology suite brings together grocery customers, in-store pickers, supermarkets and last-mile delivery fleets.

“Having built several enterprise products in the past, I wanted to tackle a core consumer challenge and was curious to build technologies to resolve it,” said Sami Alhelwah, founder and chief executive of Nana Direct.

“Groceries form a significant fraction of a Saudi family’s monthly expenditure and I believed the experience they get in return could be enhanced manifold. All around Mena more and more offline retail verticals from electronics to food were moving online, and this is what led me to Nana, a supermarket in your mobile phone,” he said.

Nana Direct builds its tech systems in-house and the company said its turnover has increased three-fold in the past year and is well on its way to top that this year, although he did not give a revenue figure.

“Businesses, small and large, are welcoming technological innovation and that bodes well for all of us,” Mr Alhelwah said.

Walid Mansour, partner and chief investment officer at MEVP, said what attracted the group to Nana Direct was the efficiency with which it offers a large selection of products, “delivered seamlessly; executed on the back of very robust tech”.

Nabeel Koshak, chief executive of SVC, said one of his company’s primary focuses was to address the equity financing gaps for start-ups in Saudi Arabia by co-investing in different sectors.

“We believe in start-ups such as Nana Direct with growth potential. They have a promising team and we believe they can take online grocery to the next level,” he said.

Nana, which has partnerships with most hypermarkets in Saudi Arabia and more than 50 speciality stores, is in advanced talks to bring more vendors to its platform and said it will use the new capital to accelerate growth plans and continue to build its team.

Updated: August 20, 2019 05:31 PM

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