United Arab Emirates-based Crescent Enterprises announced that it has acquired a stake in two African e-commerce and related companies – Mara Shopping and Mara Xpress – both part of the Mara Group.
The size of the investment was not disclosed.
The funding was led by Crescent Investments – the investment arm of Crescent Enterprises – along with a group of private investors, a statement said.
Expected to launch this year, Mara Shopping is a Middle East and Africa-focussed online marketplace that hopes to facilitate global brands to sell locally to African audiences and vice versa.
Mara Xpress, a last-mile delivery service, will specifically provide logistics support to the e-commerce market.
Mara Group has already set up a distribution hub for Mara Xpress in Dubai, and is scheduled to roll out to countries across Africa in the next four years in collaboration with Mara Shopping.
The investment is part of Crescent Enterprises’ strategy to expand its presence into Africa.
Crescent Enterprises chief executive officer Badr Jafar said: “The African continent boasts enormous potential for growth over the next decade, particularly in the technology sector.”
E-commerce sales in Africa are estimated to grow from the current $1bn to $75bn in 2025.
Mara Group founder Ashish J Thakkar said: “Mara’s tech vertical offers a complete end-to-end customer experience through Mara Shopping and Mara Xpress. We will also follow a different approach from current players in the market as Africa’s first two-way marketplace.
“Through our collaboration with the consortium of investors led by Crescent Enterprises, we have the opportunity to launch the platform later this year and really test and fine-tune the business model, which we believe will be key to scaling up and succeeding in the African market as a whole.”