Monday, 5 July 2021

EnterprisePM — B2B bulk ordering company MaxAB closes landmark USD 40 mn series A round.

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TONIGHT

Has the summer news slowdown begun? It may be too early to call it, but today’s newsflow was drier than the ring road asphalt at noon in July.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- B2B bulk ordering e-commerce company MaxAB raised USD 40 mn in a landmark series A round led by Ahmed Badreldin’s RMBV. A number of leading venture capital funds and international institutions have joined in on the round that brought the total funding raised by MaxAB to just north of USD 46 mn. We have more in the Speed Round below.

HAPPENING NOW- Word from the grapevine is that “a major” announcement from Misr Ins. Holding Company and the Planning Ministry will be made in the next few hours. We’ll be keeping our ear to the ground with the details being covered in tomorrow’s EnterpriseAM.

*** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:

  • Gov’t relaxes covid restrictions in public places: Hotels, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, theaters and retail stores are now allowed to operate at 70% capacity instead of the current 50%.
  • Ever Given saga is about to end: The Ever Given will be released on Wednesday, 7 July after the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) and the ship’s owners reached a compensation settlement for the six-day blockage of the canal in March.
  • These Alexandria bidding wars have us learning auction chants: Private equity outfit Compass Capital increased its offer for 90% of Alexandria National Company for Financial Investments (ANFI), following in the footsteps of a rival bidder, Hong Kong-based Zeta Investments.

We were hoping to get some clarity by now on where things stand with Egypt and Sudan’s diplomatic push in New York today. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is currently drumming up support at the UN Security Council for a resolution that will halt Ethiopia’s attempt to unilaterally begin the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam prior to reaching an agreement with Egypt and Sudan. Word on the street is that the UN Security Council will hold a special hearing on the matter on Thursday, though this has yet to be officially confirmed.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Today’s OPEC+ meeting is turning into a bust as UAE and Saudi Arabia continue their deadlock over an oil-output agreement. The UAE went in demanding that production quotas be removed, but has since suggested a short-term allowance for output increases — a proposition Saudi will probably refuse as well. It is now expected that the oil producing countries will agree to gradual production increases in the coming months as well as the extension of the OPEC+ accord from April to December 2022.

Why this matters: If the UAE doesn’t get on board and no agreement is reached, the fallback is that oil output will stay the same for the rest of the year, possibly risking an inflationary oil price spike. Covering the developments are: Bloomberg | Reuters | CNBC | The Economic Times

FOR TOMORROW-

It’s PMI day: Egypt’s purchasing managers’ index for June will land tomorrow morning at 6.15am CLT. The PMI rose to 48.6 in May from 47.7 in April, signalling that the country’s non-oil private sector contracted for a sixth consecutive month but at a slower pace than earlier in the year. Fears of mounting inflation locally and globally were on the minds of businesses surveyed, and will likely continue this month.

The Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC) MENA is holding a webinar titled Energy Efficiency in the MENA region: Status and Outlook tomorrow at 3:30pm.

Catch day two of The British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) virtual education week. A talk on the digitalization of education in Egypt will be held at 12pm tomorrow.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The EGX will hold its board elections for the 2021-2025 term on Wednesday, 14 July, four days earlier than it had originally planned, the exchange said in a bulletin. We had a rundown on the candidates in this morning’s EnterpriseAM.

The Cairo International Book Fair is currently ongoing at Egypt International Exhibition Center today. The event will run through to 15 July.

🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-

Chile is a role model for EMs in pushing renewable energy, aiming to become a leading global exporter of green hydrogen, according to a Financial Times opinion piece. Chile’s pitch to investors is that it is setting up the necessary infrastructure while it waits for the technology to become more easily available and scalable, and thus available for distribution at a very low cost. The Pacific nation is targeting a price tag of USD 1.50 per kilo by 2030, compared to the current USD 4.30, and is wagering that new transportation methods will also be launched by then.

Egypt is also on board the green hydrogen train, with the government launching a USD 3-4 bn initiative to produce the renewable energy and integrate it into the country’s 2035 energy strategy.

Digital advertisers are shifting their spending to Android users, following Apple’s recent tracking permissions change in iOS 14.5 that asks individuals whether they agree to allow apps to track them, according to the Wall Street Journal. Less than 33% of iOS users opt in to tracking, according to ad-measurement firm Branch Metrics, which has led to a loss of the detailed user data that firms justified the high price tag with. While it is not yet clear what the impact of Apple’s move is on apps that offer ads, Facebook has been a vocal opponent to the loss of iOS user tracking. Facebook, however, still suggests that the repercussions will be “manageable”.

Where is Liam Neeson when you need him: Russia-linked hacking group REvil is demanding USD 70 mn to restore data they’re holding from Kaseya, according to Reuters. The cybercriminals hacked the Miami-based IT firm and gained access to clients and their users, freezing 40k computers worldwide. Among those hit included schools, supermarkets, small public-sector bodies, travel and leisure organizations, credit unions and accountants. Executives from Kaseya have not yet disclosed their next course of action after finding the demand posted on the dark web.

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

Netflix’s newest true crime documentary: Sophie: A Murder in West Cork. The three-part film was given the blessing and cooperation of Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s family. Her death, which took place 25 years ago, was a gruesome scene, with people finding her body found a day later tangled in briars after her head was bludgeoned with a concrete block. The 39-year-old film producer’s murder has long been the subject of media attention but has remained unsolved to date. The prime murder suspect is a British journalist named Ian Bailey, who is also interviewed in the documentary, alongside police and family members. The Guardian is out with a review and gives the doc three stars.

The Egyptian Premier League has two matches on today: Wadi Degla is going up against Misr Lel Makkasa at 5pm while Ismaily is playing Al Ittihad at 7pm.

Are you excited for the Euro semi finals? The first match is taking place tomorrow between Italy and Spain at 9pm and is expected to be a match for the ages. Meanwhile, England is going up against underdog Denmark at 9pm on Wednesday.

🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-

It’s rock night at The Room New Cairo, featuring Pink Floyd cover band Paranoid Eyes as well as music group NightShift. The performances will start at 9pm.

Go karting race ‘Rev It Up Speed Test’ is taking place at AutoVroom race track in Obour on Saturday from 5-11pm.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

If you’re stuck at a cubicle, wondering what brought you to this point, this book might be your (very comprehensive) answer: Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots by James Suzman looks at the grand history of work by drawing insights from anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, zoology, physics, and economics. Finding joy, meaning, and purpose in work is a very modern concept, and our ancestors worked far less and saw work as more of a chore than an identity, he found. The contemporary culture of work can be traced back to the agricultural revolution and it’s super interesting to see how mentalities can be altered to serve a purpose, paving the way for capitalism. The changing thoughts around work has already altered our relationships with one another, our sense of time, and our impact on the environment and there’s more to come as the age of automation threatens to once again redefine what ‘work’ actually means.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Cairo is still steaming, with daytime highs of 40°C and nighttime lows of 24°C, our favorite weather app tells us. Meanwhile, Sahel is boasting highs of 33°C and lows of 22°C tomorrow.

SPEED ROUND: STARTUP WATCH

MaxAB closes landmark funding in fresh round led by Ahmed Badreldin’s RMBV

MaxAB has raised USD 40 mn in a series A round led by impact investor RMBV, bringing the amount invested in the company since its record USD 6.2 mn seed round in 2019 to just north of USD 46 mn, according to a MaxAB statement (pdf). The round saw participation from the IFC, Flourish Ventures, Crystal Stream Capital, Rise Capital, Endeavor Catalyst, as well as MaxAB’s original early backers Beco Capital and 4DX Ventures. Investors in the round also included Hayaat Group, a Dubai-based regional family office, Canada-based Sarona, Africa-focused impact investor Axian Telecom, and individual Egyptian investors, a source close to the transaction told us, without naming the local investors.

The Cairo-based B2B food and grocery platform will use the proceeds to set up a branch in every key city in Egypt, with an eye to eventually set up shop in other MENA countries. It will also be able to grow its recently-launched business verticals through new supply chains and financing solutions for businesses, while also ramping up hiring and recruitment, “further positioning Egypt as one of the primary technology hubs in the region,” the statement reads

Being backed by a diverse group of renowned and experienced investors will enable us to rapidly scale our operations across the MENA region and developing markets,” MaxAB co-founder and CEO Belal El Megharbel said. The company has already grown more than five times y-o-y in a short period of time, since launching back in 2018, he adds. “We are delighted to be backing visionary entrepreneurs that have created a transformative business with impressive growth that is a catalyst for financial inclusion and job creation,” RMBV Managing Partner Ahmed Badreldin, meanwhile said.

What does MaxAB do, exactly? It’s a platform that connects informal food and grocery retailers with suppliers through an Android app. It aims to automate and simplify the USD 45 bn consumer goods industry in Egypt by providing retailers in underserved areas access to a variety of products, the ability to order stock online, a rapid delivery service, and access to credit. Brands that use the platform can make use of tools including real-time demand monitoring, helping them make informed decisions about their purchasing.

You can catch up on how the company’s B2B bulk ordering is solving an issue of supply chain fragmentation that had long persisted in Egypt, in a recent feature of Hardhat.

SPEED ROUND: COVID WATCH

A milestone in our vaccine production

Egypt produced 1 mn Made-in-Egypt Sinovac jabs, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced during his visit to the 600k doses per day Vacsera factory today (watch, runtime 7:09). Egypt aims to double the amount of the raw material used in the vaccine to be able to produce 80 mn jabs for the rest of the year, up from the previously announced 40 mn. The first batch of Vacsera’s locally-made jabs were produced last week and are expected to be distributed to clinics next month.

Vacsera’s new 6 October factory will expand to become a vaccine industrial complex: Vacsera is working on building a new vaccine factory in 6 October, which is set to become a hub for manufacturing vaccines — and not just for covid-19 — with a capacity that could reach 3 mn jabs per day, Madbouly said. The factory will produce eight other vaccines that are needed in Egypt, he said, without naming those vaccines.

How many have been vaccinated so far? Around 4.5 mn were reportedly vaccinated with at least one dose since the government began its vaccination campaign. This is 7.5% of all eligible people to receive the vaccine, as Capmas estimates there are a little more than 60 mn Egyptians aged over 18.

SPEED ROUND: CAPITAL MARKETS

EFG Hermes Kenya rolls out online trading platform on Nairobi Stock Exchange

EFG Hermes Kenya has launched today its online trading platform EFG Hermes One on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), the leading frontier and emerging markets investment bank said today (pdf). The platform allows NSE retail investors to track stock prices in real time, place, track, review, edit, and cancel orders, and build customized watch lists. The platform also features portfolio management tools, portfolio reports that display information on orders history and dividend payments.

The platform aims to “capitalize on Kenya’s high mobile phone penetration rate by leveraging digital channels,” EFG said. For mobile phone and tablet users, the platform will be accessible through a “user-friendly and easy-to-navigate” app that can be downloaded both on Apples’ App Store and Google Play, it added. “With capital market trends demonstrating ever-increasing interest from retail investors across the world, we aim to increase access and awareness to capital markets to foster better equity trading across sub-Saharan Africa, said Ali Khalpey, CEO of EFG Hermes Frontier. “We hope to replicate the success we have witnessed

with the EFG Hermes One application across other markets,” Khalpey added.

Background: EFG obtained a brokerage license in Kenya back in 2017, as part of its expansion in frontier markets, and has since become the top-ranked broker in the East African country.

GO WITH THE FLOW

Foreign investors are net buyers for second trading session in a row

The EGX30 rose less than 0.1% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.31 bn (5.7% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net buyers. The index is down 4.6% YTD.

In the green: GB Auto (+2.3%), AMOC (+1.9%) and Palm Hills Development (+1.5%).

In the red: Orascom Development Egypt (-2.3%), Cleopatra Hospital (-2.0%) and ElSewedy Electric (-1.6%).

THE MACRO PICTURE

MENA is getting a taste for green debt issuance

Green debt issuance is on the rise in MENA: The value of green and sustainability-linked debt sales in the MENA region rose by 38% y-o-y in the first six months of 2021, exceeding the total issued in the whole of 2020, according to Bloomberg data cited by Trade Arabia. Some USD 6.4 bn of ESG bonds have been issued so far this year, compared to USD 4.7 bn in the same period last year, according to Bloomberg’s Capital Markets League Tables.

Who contributed to the growth? A USD 3.8 bn loan facility taken on by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Development contributed to the majority of this jump. The finance will help fund Red Sea Development’s luxury tourism project, and received green financing accreditation due to the company’s ESG principles.

Egypt led the way regionally in sovereign green bond issuances: The country had the region’s maiden sovereign green bond issuance, listing USD 750 mn in sovereign green bonds last September on the LSE. The issuance was well-received by the market as it was 5x oversubscribed and lured some USD 3.7 bn worth of orders. A second issuance is in the pipeline during the FY2021-2022, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said last month, yet noted that the offering was not yet settled.

Corporate green bonds saw their debut here last week: CIB is going ahead with the country’s first-ever corporate green bond sale, issuing USD 100 mn of the climate-linked securities, all of which is being snapped up by the International Finance Corporation.

Gulf lenders joining the fold: First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) issued the region’s first CHF-denominated green bonds in January, raising CHF 260 mn Swiss (or USD 292.1 mn), before issuing bonds worth CNY 150 mn in June in what was the first yuan-denominated green bond sale in MENA. In March, Emirates NBD was responsible for the region’s first sustainability-linked loan to refinance existing debt, borrowing USD 1.75 bn.

Putting this all in perspective: The MENA region still accounts for only a fraction of global green debt issuance, which stood at USD 541 bn during the first six months of the year.

HEALTH

Higher infertility rates in MENA are driving demand for IVF treatments

Demand for infertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is increasing in the MENA region amid higher infertility rates, according to a report by Colliers (paywall).

The region suffers from an above-average infertility rate: The infertility rate in the MENA region is around 15%, significantly higher than the 10% global average, according to research and interviews conducted by the company.

This could be a conservative estimate: Previous research has suggested that the region’s infertility rate could be as high as 22.6%.

And fertility rates are dropping, too: Despite the regional population quintupling in size over the past 70 years, the fertility rate has fallen from an average seven children per woman to less than three.

This isn’t all down to infertility, of course: Rising literacy levels, the increasing use of contraception, and the growing number of women in the workplace have all contributed to the falling fertility rate seen over recent decades.

Why does the MENA region have a higher infertility rate? Although data from the region is scarce, it has been suggested by medical researchers that low- and middle-income countries in the region can lower the incidence of infertility by preventing diseases such as TB, injuries sustained during childbirth, and so-called “iatrogenic infertility” which is caused inadvertently by other medical treatments.

IVF: A former taboo that is growing in popularity in the Middle East. Attitudes towards IVF are changing in the Middle East, and it is slowly becoming more culturally-accepted, especially among men. The region is witnessing the evolution of homegrown brands that offer high quality and high success results, which means that the lack of international brands is not posing an obstacle to the sector’s growth. The ease of entry to many Middle East countries including the UAE and soon KSA also positively impacts the sector.

Egypt a regional hotspot for IVF: Of the three MENA countries examined by Colliers, the Egyptian IVF market is the largest, valued at USD 490 mn. The Egyptian healthcare system is growing both “quantitatively and qualitatively” to meet demand, and is benefiting from high-quality medical staff and lower visa restrictions, the report says.

It’s less costly per treatment cycle here: The cost of IVF is lower in Egypt, costing between USD 2k-5k per treatment cycle compared to USD 7k-10k in Saudi Arabia and USD 10k-15k in the UAE.

But demand is far higher: The number of cycles in Egypt is expected to rise almost 30% this decade, hitting almost 206k by 2030. This is far higher than the UAE, which will grow marginally to 17.7k in 2030, and Saudi Arabia which will hit 82.2k at the end of the decade.

How does all this compare to the global market? The combined value of the Egyptian, UAE and Saudi Arabian IVF markets is USD 1.1 bn, giving the three countries a 7.4% share of the global market.

IVF is also a ripe market for M&A: Despite growing investments, the IVF market remains relatively “fragmented” for being served mostly by individual clinics and hospital units, offering openings for mergers and acquisitions, the report says. The Egyptian IVF market saw its first major consolidation last year after Cleopatra Hospital Group signed a business transfer agreement in December that gives it an effective 60% stake in IVF specialist Bedaya Hospital.

CALENDAR

1-10 July (Thursday-Saturday): The government’s fuel pricing committee will meet to announce 3Q prices.

8 July (Thursday): The UN Security Council will meet to discuss the GERD crisis with Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

11 July (Sunday): Ismailia Economic Court will hold a hearing on Ever Given compensation case.

14 July (Wednesday): The EGX will hold board elections for the 2021-2025 term.

Mid-July: Legislative session expected to end.

19 July (Monday): Arafat Day (national holiday).

21 July (Wednesday): Clean Energy Business Council’s webinar Women entrepreneurs in clean energy (3pm)

20-23 July (Tuesday-Friday): Eid Al Adha (national holiday).

23 July (Friday): Revolution Day (national holiday).

23 July-11 August (Friday-Wednesday): Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

2-4 August (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt is hosting the Africa Food Manufacturing exhibition at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.

5 August (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

9 August (Monday): Islamic New Year.

12 August (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Islamic New Year.

3-5 September (Friday-Sunday): The World Karate Federation will hold the third competition of the 2021 Karate 1-Premier League in Cairo.

12-15 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Sahara Expo: the 33rd International Agricultural Exhibition for Africa and the Middle East.

15 September (Wednesday): The CFO Leadership & Strategy Summit is taking place in Egypt.

16 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September: Closing of 2021’s first oil and gas tender in the Gulf of Suez, Western Desert, and the Mediterranean.

1 October (Friday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

24-28 October (Sunday-Thursday) Cairo Water Week, Cairo, Egypt.

27-28 October (Wednesday-Thursday) Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski, Cairo, Egypt.

28 October (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

30 October – 4 November (Saturday-Thursday): The first edition of Race The Legends, Egypt.

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo.

12-14 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Food Africa Cairo trade exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

16 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

**Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of Commercial International Bank (tax ID: 204-891-949), the largest private-sector bank in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; and Act Financial (tax ID: 493-924-612), the leading activist investor in Egypt.