The investment comes on the back of the Saudi ecommerce sector experiencing unprecedented growth between 2020 and 2021.
With funding growing by 235% between 2020 and 2021, ecommerce stands as one of the MENA region’s most prolific sectors, with 87 deals completed in a record-breaking last year. Among the standout deals were Kuwait’s Floward securing a $27.5 million Series B, Jordan’s OpenSooq raising $24 million and UAE’s eyewa scoring a $27.5 Series B.
By far the largest, however, was Saudi B2B digital marketplace Sary’s $75 million Series C round, which ate up a large part of the capital deployed in KSAecommerce startups, which made up 38% of the total capital deployed in ecommerce across the region. Having generated revenue of $8 billion last year, all of these numbers are expected to continue rising in 2022.
The latest investment in a Saudi ecommerce startup has come in the form of a $6.6 million Series A round for fresh produce specialist, Haseel, led by Dammam-based venture capital firm, Vision Ventures. The round also included participation from Riyad Taqnia Fund and Kuwait’s Arzan Capital, alongside undisclosed angel investors.
Founded in 2018 by Sultan Al Haddab, the Riyadh-headquartered startup has landed on investor radars for its daily deliveries of fresh produce to homes and restaurants. Available as an app on iOS and Android, Haseel delivers within two hours and links farmers with consumers and businesses, streamlining the supply chain in the process to ensure best value for farmers and best quality for buyers.
Much like the success of other similar ecommerce platforms, Haseel was conceived to remove the many layers of distributors and middle-men that founder Sultan sought to solve. In its first iteration, Haseel offered next-day delivery, before switching to two-hour delivery in the majority of Saudi cities last year. Most recently, it added a B2B layer to serve hotels and F&B businesses. Currently, it operates across 16 cities and claims to have served 400K clients, delivering over 10 million kilograms of fresh produce, growing 600% in B2B transactions alone in the last 12 months.
Interestingly, ecommerce in the Kingdom grew by 60%, which is 2.5x the average international growth rate, paving the way for Haseel to defragment the fresh produce market, while potentially also aiding growth for farmers in Saudi Arabia and, eventually, the rest of the region. The startup intends to channel the investment into developing its tech, cement its position in its home market by expanding its B2B offerings, and adding talent to its 110-strong team.
Most interestingly, however, the Haseel is looking to utilise artificial intelligence to assist farmers in deciding which kind of produce to grow based on shifts in supply and demand, which will further empower farmers and potentially address food security issues in the Kingdom in line with Vision 2030.