J.P. Morgan Chase and Blakeney Management have invested over $20 million in a Dubai-based e-commerce firm which sells designer clothing, a sign that global investors are interested in the Middle East’s nascent online shopping sector.
Namshi, a start-up launched late in 2011, aims to benefit from growth in the number of Internet users around the region.
“We realised very early that there is a gap in the market for fashion e-commerce in the region,” said co-founder and managing director Muhammed Mekki, a former executive at consultancy McKinsey & Co, who founded Namshi with three other partners.
“It’s a proven business model in most other developed markets and the investment signals international investors see immense scope for the business in the region,” Mekki told Reuters on Wednesday.
Namshi, which also provides shoes and accessories, offers over 400 international brands and delivers to customers in the Gulf region. It plans to use the investment to expand its service, mainly in Saudi Arabia, its biggest market.
Rising populations and the growth of small businesses are expected to support more venture capital transactions in the Middle East and North Africa over coming years.
Many of the deals are likely to be in the information technology and Internet sectors, as the region embraces the use of social media following last year’s “Arab Spring” uprisings.
London-based Blakeney Management focuses on investment in the Arab world and Africa. J.P. Morgan’s asset management arm had assets under management of $1.3 trillion in June this year.