Sunday, 22 August 2021

EnterprisePM — Odiggo lands USD 2.2 mn seed funding + plots Nasdaq IPO



Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and we hope today’s breezy drive to work continues all week long after the furnace-level weather of the past few days.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- Another Egyptian startup eyeing a Nasdaq listing? After Swvl announced that it would be making its debut on the Nasdaq in 4Q2021 through a merger with blank-check firm Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital, Egyptian automotive startup Odiggo appears to be following suit. Co-founder Ahmed Nasser tells Enterprise that its reported IPO plans will target the Nasdaq. We have more in the Speed Round below.

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

  • No carrots, no sticks: An Enterprise poll found that Egyptian companies have so far shied away from mandating their staff be vaccinated against covid-19 and are not yet offering incentives to their employees.
  • Covid-19 vaccinations are now mandatory in schools and universities: All students aged over 18, teachers and school staff must register for a vaccine, which will be administered on premises.
  • A new inflation target: The government is targeting average inflation of 6% through FY2021-2022, within the central bank’s 7% (±2%) target.

HAPPENING NOW- Defense Minister Mohamed Zaki is heading to Moscow to attend the joint Egyptian-Russian military committee to discuss bilateral military cooperation, the Armed Forces spokesperson said in a statement.

SIGN OF THE TIMES- You will need booster shots if you’re going to Austria, Croatia: In a sign that booster shots will become a mainstay, travellers heading to Austria and Croatia who have been double vaccinated will see more stringent entry requirements 270 days (or nine months) after receiving their second dose. If your nine months are up, Austria will want to see a PCR test and will require a 5-10 day quarantine period starting in October, while Croatia will require proof of a recent recovery but will accept travellers who recently received a single jab only. Both countries have been popular travel destinations since they’re on the UK’s “green list.”

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- The fallout from the Taliban’s sudden victory in Afghanistan continues to dominate global headlines. A British defense ministry official today announced that seven Afghans died amid the chaos in Kabul airport yesterday. Among them was a two-year-old girl who was trampled by the surging crowd, the NYT reports; meanwhile, the US embassy has warned its citizens away from the airport due to “potential security threats outside the gates.” The Taliban’s takeover is also stoking fears of an impending economic collapse in the country—already one of the world’s poorest—with the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) Afghanistan director warning of “a complete humanitarian disaster” unless the international community steps in immediately to offer aid.

Other global headlines worth noting include:

  • Hurricane Henri is coming for the US northeast: Long Island and New England will experience their first hurricane in at least 30 years today, The National Hurricane Center said.
  • OnlyFans is going halal in October: It’s front-page news in both the Financial Times and Bloomberg.


The US Federal Reserve has at the last minute moved online its annual Jackson Hole gathering of central bankers and monetary policymakers this weekend over concerns about the delta variant. Powell and other Fed officials had previously tried to play down the impact on the US economy of the more virulent coronavirus strain. But they were forced to make a U-turn as the local case count climbed in Wyoming, returning the Jackson Hole meeting to an online-only format for a second consecutive year. The one-day event, which will focus on “Macroeconomic Policy in an Uneven Economy,” will take place on Friday, 27 August.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will begin on Tuesday 24 August and run through 5 September, with Egypt sending a 49-athlete-strong team to the games.

MEED will hold a webinar named Energy Transition in the Middle East, at 12pm CLT on Tuesday 24 August.


Staying with the Fed, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told senior White House advisers that she wants Jerome Powell reappointed as head of the Fed, one Bloomberg journalist has said on Twitter. Powell, who was somewhat controversially appointed by Donald Trump to replace Yellen as Fed chair in 2018, is now credited by supporters on both sides of the aisle with guiding the US economy safely through the pandemic and into recovery. Most Fed watchers expect him to be asked back for another four-year term, but the final decision rests with President Biden. He should make his view known sometime around Labor Day in early September, the reporter added. Powell’s term expires in February.

As SPACs raise the eyebrows of regulators, famed activist investor Bill Ackman is proposing SPARCs. An abbreviation for special purpose acquisition rights company, SPARCs differ from SPACs by not requiring investors to put up investments until a target company has been identified and a long-term operational strategy is set, according to the Financial Times.

Ackman’s proposal follows a lawsuit that alleges that the bn’aire’s SPAC should actually be registered as an investment company as it mainly invests in securities. Ackman called the lawsuit “meritless” in a letter to investors (pdf), but said that it would push back the timeline on specific agreements such as a planned stake purchase in Universal Music Group. The lawsuit is the most recent of attempts by lawmakers to regulate the broader SPAC market as they shy away from the risks of the financial vehicle. Ackman has pledged to give back USD 4 bn to investors who piled into his SPAC if the new SPARC is approved.

Still unsure what a SPAC is? Check out our explainer on the topic.

It’s easy to claim the ESG flag when oil isn’t doing great: As oil prices recover in 2021 and oil and gas companies make a strong showing this earnings season, investors appear to have simply put their fans on their desks and gone right back into the arms of oil majors. European oil stocks are cheap, pay out big, and have strong earnings momentum, especially in a potentially overvalued broader market, Bloomberg reports citing several analysts. After a pandemic year that saw the sector lose a quarter of its value and slash dividends, investors are now betting on a recovery in Europe’s oil markets—and they’re not deterred by ESG concerns.

Oil majors feeding the addiction: Take BP, which recently announced earlier this month it will increase its dividend by 4% and buy back shares worth USD 1.4 bn in 3Q2021. Shares of the company rose 5.6% following the announcement. It isn’t the only one, with oil majors (barring ExxonMobil) promising something similar. All the while these companies continue to peddle the story that they are taking climate change seriously. One fund manager told Bloomberg that he expected fossil fuel companies to continue generating profits for the next 30 or 40 years amid that transition, adding that while “people tend to pick on Big Oil…What we do is say, actually, it’s really complex.”

And it doesn’t matter how many UN scientists tell us we need to put the emergency break on fossil fuels. UN chief Antonio Guterres said the body’s most recent climate change report “must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.”


Short and sweet sitcoms that make your day better wherever they fit in: This week we’ll be rounding up some of our favorite short-form sitcoms that guarantee a quick pick me up during the day. New Girl has been on Netflix for a while and is a show that we could watch endless times. Jess (played by Zoeey Deschanel) moves into a loft with three guys and all four of them couldn’t be more different. From the cute school teacher Jess to dopey Winston, workaholic and fancy pants Schmidt, and finally, self-declared “man of the people” Nick. The show follows the unique and hilarious characters traverse through life, relationships, growing together, and everything in between. Uncommon opinion: Schmidt is our favorite.

This afternoon in the English Premier League: Man Utd are aiming to make it two wins from two in their game against Southampton, which kicked off at 3pm. Kicking off at the same time are Tottenham and Wolves, with the new Spurs manager Nuno Espirito Santo facing his old club for the first time since making the move in the summer.

The headline fixture: Arsenal host Chelsea in the 5.30pm fixture, with the Blues hoping to pile more misery on the Gunners, who were easily beaten by crosstown minnows Brentford last week.

In La Liga, Atletico Madrid plays Elche tonight at 7:30pm while Real Madrid will face Levante at 10pm.

Serie A has four matches tonight: Juventus against Udinese and Bologna against Salernitana, both at 6:30pm. At 8:45, Roma will hit the field alongside Fiorentina while Napoli is up against Venezia.

Reminder: You can stream certain Serie A games live on YouTube (at least until the league finally sorts out a rights package with a MENA broadcaster).


If you don’t know, now you know: Krispy Kreme is in Egypt and is unsurprisingly making a bang. Opening up shop at Arabella Plaza, close to GUC, the donut shop has seen formidable lines these past few days. They’ve since set up an express line for customers who want an assorted box or a box full of their signature glazed donuts. Those who want to choose their own selection of treats will have to wait in the queue. Before you head there, get prepped with these Krispy Kreme donut rankings by Delish and Spoon University. On another note, we can finally cross this off our bucket list of bad food decisions: the KFC/Krispy Kreme sandwich.


Find a new passion by starting a Salsa or Bachata dance course which are being offered at Forever Young studio in New Cairo.

The Sinatras and Leila Adham are taking the stage at The Room New Cairo tomorrow at 9pm.


Why are some nations more prosperous than others? Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson sets out to answer that question, attempting to explain why some countries are rich and others poor, divided by a gap in wealth, food security, and health. The authors look at nations from past and present history, bringing together evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the US, and Africa.

The conclusion was actually pretty simple: the quality and effectiveness of political and economic institutions determine economic success and standards of living. Although every nation is affected by their different cultures, economies and geographies, the authors argue that in all countries these institutions need to be effective, innovative, and durable if they are to succeed economically and raise the standard of living. You can find the book at Diwan Bookstore.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- The weather will continue to be a bit more bearable tomorrow at 38°C in the capital city during the day and 24°C at night, our favorite weather app tells us. Meanwhile, Sahel will have daytime highs of 31°C and nighttime lows of 22°C.


Odiggo lands USD 2.2 mn seed funding, plans Nasdaq IPO

Odiggo lands seven-figure USD seed funding, plans Nasdaq IPO: Egyptian auto startup Odiggo has secured USD 2.2 mn in seed finance as part of the Y Combinator 2021 summer batch, TechCrunch reports. 500 Startups, Plug and Play Ventures, and a number of regional VCs including Seedra Ventures and LoftyInc Capital joined Y Combinator in the round.

An IPO on the biggest tech exchange in the world will help it go global: The company wants to go public on the Nasdaq by 2024, co-founder Ahmed Nasser tells Enterprise. It has ambitions of becoming the MENA region’s first USD 100 bn auto company.

Swvl became the first Egyptian company to announce a Nasdaq listing last month. The transport app will go public in the US through a merger with US SPAC Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital in an agreement that values the company at around USD 1.5 bn.

What’s Odiggo? Co-founded by Ahmed Omar and Ahmed Nasser in late 2019, the tech startup operates an app that allows drivers to connect with suppliers and service providers near them. In return for using its app, Odiggo charges companies 20% commission on every transaction.

New tech, new staff: The company plans to use the funding to further develop its product and integrate new technologies, Nasser told Enterprise. It will also expand its team in Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

And it has big expansion plans: The company launched in Egypt and has since expanded to Dubai. Its founders said in June that it is now targeting Riyadh and other GCC countries as part of its regional expansion plans. And following the latest funding round, it's looking beyond MENA. “Once we master the region, we’re going to go for the global competition,” Nasser said.


Arab Bank has launched its fintech accelerator program in Egypt, the bank said in a statement (pdf). Initially launched in Jordan in 2018, the “AB Accelerator” program will now invest in early-stage Egyptian fintech startups as well as companies involved in other related technology verticals, such as cybersecurity and AI to help them scale their business across the MENA region. Companies can apply to join the program here.


Valu plans maiden securitized bond offering

Valu is getting into securitization: EFG Hermes subsidiary Valu is planning a maiden securitized bond issuance worth EGP 2 bn, EFG Hermes Finance CEO Walid Hassouna told Al Mal TV (watch, runtime 1:06:43). The consumer finance lender could kick start the program before the end of the year with a EGP 300 mn sale, he said, adding that a final decision has not yet been taken on the size of the initial tranche.

An update from Corp-Solutions: The bank’s factoring arm EFG Hermes Corp-Solutions is also planning to take a EGP 300 mn issuance to market later this year, Hassouna told the newspaper. This is a different figure to the one given earlier this month by Corp-Solutions CEO Talal Elayat, who said that the company could raise EGP 500-700 mn from an issuance expected to take place in 4Q2021.

The market has been tepid so far this year: SODIC, Palm Hills Development, Premium International and Arabia Investments Holding subsidiary Rawaj have been the only companies to sell asset-backed securities to investors, worth around EGP 2 bn.

But more companies are preparing for securitized bond offerings: Upmarket developer SODIC, Contact Financial Holding, Edge Holding, Raya’s Aman, Tamweel Holdings and NUCA’s Al Taamir for Securitization have all reportedly planned to securitize parts of their portfolios in the coming months. The FRA said late last year that five companies would issue bonds worth EGP 9.3 bn in the near future.


Small caps have until the end of the month to get a nominated adviser

The EGX is giving all listed small caps until 31 August to appoint a nominated adviser, according to a press release (pdf) from the EGX today. Egypt’s SMEs listed on the Tamayoz index (formerly NileX) had until this Tuesday to hire an EGX-accredited nominated adviser under new regulations designed to improve their fundamentals and make them attractive to investors.


The EGX30 fell 1.1% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.53 bn (9.5% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 1.4% YTD.

In the green: CIRA (+4.0%), GB Auto (+1.0%) and MOPCO (+0.1%).

In the red: Fawry (-3.4%), Ibnsina Pharma (-3.0%) and AMOC (-2.5%).


How to talk to your boss about mental health: With up to 80% of people estimated to experience some form of mental health condition over their lifetime it is likely that it’ll coincide with, and ultimately impact your work in some way. Regardless of the severity of your experience, chances are you won’t be performing at your all time best when in the throes of a mental health challenge. It’s important to have those conversations early on with your employer to see how accommodations can be made to avoid things getting out of hand.

Take the time to reflect: Before jumping into these often tricky conversations, take the time to really understand the ins and outs of what you’re going through, writes Kelly Greenwood, the founder and CEO of mental health non-profit Mind Share Partners for the Harvard Business Review. This might mean considering things like how long you expect the impact on your performance to be, or what might have led to this particular challenge. It's especially important to take note of whether work-related issues were a factor in your current condition, so that you can better work with your manager on addressing the root causes of stressors.

Assess your work environment: Once you’ve checked in with yourself, make sure you get a good reading of your company culture. This means assessing the resources, if any, already available to you at your organization. Looking at how higher ups in your company embody mentally healthy behaviors is also a good way to gauge how you might approach talking to your manager about your own challenges, Greenwood says.

Think up some possible solutions ahead of time: Preparing suggestions for how your organization could accommodate for your situation ahead of time could be a good place to start. Whether you’re asking for more flexible work hours or a few days off to recharge, it's good to have specific requests on hand to make matters easier for your manager.

The key here is to be as proactive as possible: Instead of waiting until a challenge balloons into a crisis, try to anticipate your breaking point ahead of time. “Mental health days are truly meant to prevent burnout,” a US-based psychiatrist tells Lifehacker. This is admittedly more difficult than it seems, because no one wants to appear incapable of managing stress in a competitive job market, but it is still better than collapsing and risking your job altogether.

But be prepared for a back and forth: “It is key to frame the conversation in a way that gives your boss a chance to provide you with feedback on what are some things that are working and some things that aren’t working,” a clinical psychologist tells Lifehacker.

So how much information should you divulge? The consensus among mental health and HR professionals is that you should keep detail to just enough so that managers understand you are genuinely going through a difficult time, but to avoid the specifics of stressors from your personal life.

Bosses need to start recognizing the importance of their workers’ mental health: Being forthcoming about mental health challenges is important, but the onus should not lie solely on employees to come forward; managers need to create a welcoming environment too. Holding regular check-ins with employees, offering flexibility and communicating frequently are among the tools managers can employ to help their team feel comfortable talking about their personal challenges.


24 August (Tuesday): MEED will hold a webinar named Energy Transition in the Middle East.

24 August-5 September (Tuesday- Sunday) Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

27 August (Friday): Jackson Hole Economic Symposium.

September: Delegation of Russian companies to visit Russian Industrial Zone.

1-3 September (Wednesday-Friday): Digi Sign Africa, Cairo International Convention Centre, Cairo, Egypt.

2 September (Thursday): The new EGX mechanism for calculating closing share prices will come into effect.

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

5-7 September (Sunday-Tuesday): The Arab Security Conference, The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo, Egypt.

7-8 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Euromoney Conferences will host the GlobalCapital Sustainable and Responsible Capital Markets Forum 2021, featuring Vice Minister of Finance Minister Ahmed Kouchouk.

7-9 September (Tuesday-Thursday): Egy Health Expo, Al Manara International Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

9 September (Thursday): DevOpsDays Cairo 2021 is being organized by ITIDA and the Software Engineering Competence Center in cooperation with DXC Technology, IBM Egypt and Orange Labs.

12 September (Sunday): International schools begin 2021-2022 academic year

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.

21-22 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

22-25 September (Wednesday-Saturday): Cityscape Egypt, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

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.

October: New legislative session begins.

October: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis could visit Egypt in mid this month to discuss ways to boost tourism cooperation between the two countries.

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.

1 October (Friday): State-owned companies and government service bodies selling goods and services to customers that have not yet signed on to the e-invoicing platform will suffer a host of penalties, including removal from large taxpayer classification, losing access to government services and business, and losing subsidies.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

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

9 October (Saturday): Public schools begin 2021-2022 academic year

11-17 October (Monday-Sunday): IMF + World Bank Annual Meetings.

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.

31 October – 12 November (Sunday-Friday): The 26th UN Climate Change Conference, Glasgow, UK.

November: The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

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.

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

2-3 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

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

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

7-8 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Trade Finance Summit.

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.

14-19 December (Tuesday-Sunday): The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater.

14-15 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

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.

16 June 2022 (Thursday): End of 2021-2022 academic year for public schools

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. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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