Saudi Delivery App Raises Funds as Virus Lockdown Boosts Demand

(Bloomberg) --

A grocery delivery app in Saudi Arabia has raised funds to expand across the Middle East as lockdown measures related to the coronavirus boost demand for online shopping.

Nana raised $18 million from investors including venture capital fund STV and Middle East Venture Partners, the app’s Founder Sami Alhelwah said in an interview. The company has expanded its capacity threefold to cope with the spike in demand and plans to increase it more now that the kingdom has imposed a curfew, he said.

“The penetration of online grocery shopping in the region is very low, and our target is to expand across the region and beyond groceries into other products,” Alhelwah said. “Ultimately, we want to become the Amazon of the Middle East and be one of the first technology companies listed in Saudi Arabia.”

Demand for online retail is expected to grow in the Middle East, given that e-commerce penetration lags other parts of the world. That’s largely because consumers prefer to pay with cash rather than use credit cards online.

“Nana is helping Saudi Arabia deal with the breakout of coronavirus and has seen a big increase in user numbers,” said Ahmad AlShammari, a principal at STV, which led the funding. “We are hoping this will accelerate the shift to online grocery shopping in the region.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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