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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Sequoia makes its first North Africa + GCC investment in Egypt’s Telda

Digital banking app Telda landed USD 5 mn in a pre-seed funding round led by Silicon Valley-based VC firm Sequoia Capital, according to a statement (pdf). Global Founders Capital and Class 5 Global also participated in the investment round.

The investment means Telda just broke the regional record for pre-seed funding, which Egyptian logistics startup Flextock set earlier this month by closing a USD 3.25 mn pre-seed investment. Telda’s funding round is also Sequoia Capital’s first investment in North Africa and the GCC, as well as the first investment in Egypt for Global Founders Capital and Class 5 Global.

About Telda: The app, which will formally launch in a few weeks’ time, will provide its users with a Telda card that can be used online or in brick and mortar stores, to withdraw from ATMs, pay bills, and send and receive money. The company is the first to land a banking license from the Central Bank of Egypt under the new Banking Act. And it’s a big market: Bloomberg reminds us that Egypt is the world’s third-most cash-reliant economy, after Morocco and Vietnam and just ahead of the Philippines and Peru.

It’s not the first rodeo for Telda’s founders: CEO Ahmed Sabbah was co-founder and chief technology officer of transport startup Swvl, while co-founder Youssef Sholqamy was a senior engineer at Uber’s infrastructure team.

And Sequoia has a good track record picking challenger banks: It invested in 2013 in Latin America’s Nubank, which now boasts some 38 mn clients and claims to be “the world’s largest digital bank.”

The story is getting attention in the foreign press this morning: Bloomberg | Business Insider | TechCrunch.

MEANWHILE: Egyptian shipment logistics startup Bosta raised USD 6.7 mn in a series A funding round led by Silicon Badia, a Jordan-based global VC fund, according to Menabytes. 4DX Ventures, Plug and Play Ventures, Wealthwell VC, Khwarizmi Ventures and other unnamed investors also participated in the round. Bosta will use the funding to grow its business in Egypt, with an eye to expanding into Saudia Arabia by the end of 2021. The company also has plans to expand further to other GCC markets. Bosta had previously raised a USD seven-figure investment in a series A round in February 2020 to support its growth in Egypt.

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