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Egyptian businessman Wael Olama’s e-commerce fashion startup Gahez raises $2 million in pre-seed funding

The $2-million round funding was led by Disruptech Ventures, a $25-million VC fund.

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Wael Olama.

Egyptian e-commerce fashion startup, Gahez, has secured $2 million in a pre-seed funding round led by institutional investors, as it begins to scale up operations and infrastructure.

Gahez is an Egypt-based B2B e-commerce fashion startup co-founded by Wael Olama, an Egyptian businessman with extensive experience in supply chain management and an impressive career in the fashion and textile industry.

The $2-million round funding was led by Disruptech Ventures, a $25-million VC fund established to support promising early stage fintech and fintech-enabled digital services providers.

Additional investors included Egypt Ventures, Tanmeyah and Afropreneur Fund, as well as other angel investors. Gahez will use the fresh infusion of capital to build its talent and infrastructure.

Olama, Gahez co-founder and CEO, noted that the round will be used for capacity building, as the startup will invest heavily to scale and position itself within the Egyptian apparel market, which is valued at $24 billion. 

He explained that the capital raise aligns with its mission to revolutionize the retail industry. Its proceeds will place the startup in the position to create value through its services in the Egyptian and African apparel market, which Olama said were untapped and widely fragmented.

Olama launched Gahez in 2021 to simplify the relationship between retailers and manufacturers and boost the online trading cycle.

In addition to connecting fashion retailers with suppliers, the startup provides retailers with credit facilities and facilitates settlements with suppliers.

Since its launch, Gahez has leveraged growth opportunities in the fashion and apparel business to improve its presence in Egypt, working with more than 15,000 merchants and 142 manufacturers.

Aside from his business role in Gahez, Olama is the chairman of the Cotton Egypt Association, the official organization managing the Egyptian Cotton Logo. He is also a board member of the Textile Chamber, a unit of the Egyptian Industrial Federation.

He is also a former chairman and shareholder of Li & Fung Egypt, a subsidiary of Li & Fung Group, a leading supply chain management company headquartered in Hong Kong.

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Nassef Sawiris’ Orascom Construction adds new projects worth $785 million in Q4 2021

Orascom Construction is a leading global engineering and construction contractor founded by the late Egyptian industrialist Onsi Sawiris.

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Nassef Sawiris.

Egyptian engineering and construction contractor, Orascom Construction Plc, has added new projects worth $785 million to its backlog of active construction works in Q4 2021.

According to a press statement issued by the leading construction group, the new projects raised the total number of awards linked to the group by 22 percent to $3.5 billion in 2021.

A breakdown of the figure revealed that projects in the Middle East comprised 55 percent of the new awards for the period., including transportation and power projects in Egypt and water projects in Egypt and Tunisia.

Outside the Middle East, new awards in the United States accounted for 45 percent of the total additions in the quarter, and this was driven by new projects in the commercial sector.

As of Dec. 30, 2021, the estimated consolidated backlog stood at $6.1 billion. This is $100-million higher than its figure for Q3 2021.

The new projects added in Q4 2021 lagged behind the volume of new awards added in Q3 2021, which amounted to $962.4 million thanks to Orascom signing a deal to build Egypt’s first high-speed rail system, as well as sizeable contracts in the student housing sector in the United States.

Orascom Construction is a leading global engineering and construction contractor founded by the late Egyptian industrialist Onsi Sawiris, who died on June 29 at 91.

The billionaire Sawiris family holds a 51.8-percent stake in the Egypt-based contractor through OS Private Trust Company, while Egypt’s wealthiest man Nassef Sawiris owns a 28.97-percent stake in the group, amounting to 33,825,323 ordinary shares.

As of press time, Jan. 18, shares in the group were trading at EGP76 ($4.829) per share. This is 1.23-percent higher than their opening price on the Egyptian Stock Exchange this morning.

At this price, the company’s market capitalization is EGP8.87 billion ($563.9 million).

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Led by Uganda-based Kaivan Sattar, Asaak raises $30 million to deepen operations in Africa

Mzabi, who started ARTES with his brothers Mzoughi and Sadok, holds a substantial 24.8-percent stake in the company. 

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Kaivan Sattar.

Ugandan fintech startup, Asaak, has raised $30 million in a pre-Series-A funding round to deepen operations, as it prepares to enter new markets on the continent in line with its strategic expansion plans.

Asaak is a Ugandan startup co-founded by Kaivan Sattar, Anthony Leontiev, Edward Egwalu and Dylan Terrill in 2016.

It operates as a financial services provider to unbanked Ugandan entrepreneurs, providing financing for motorcycle operators who are locked out by formal banking institutions.

Since it commenced operations about six years ago, the startup has financed the purchase of 5,000 motorcycles and started offering smartphones and fuel financing to operators.

Its pre-Series-A funding round, which is a mix of equity and debt financing, was led by Resolute Ventures, Social Capital, HOF Capital, Founders Factory Africa, End Poverty Make Trillions, Decentralized VC and a number of angel investors.

The startup noted that the $30-million capital injection will be used to support the acquisition of motorbikes for operators and also the adoption of smartphones by taxi operators.

It also revealed plans to enter six new markets in Africa in the near future.

Dylan Terrill, co-founder and chief business officer of Asaak, said: “Asaak is unlocking mobility-based work, which literally moves the economy forward and creates upward mobility for these individuals. Bodaboda riders are the lifeblood of Africa, moving people and cargo from home to school to work. They just need access to motorcycles which leads them to better income opportunities and makes them able to provide for their families.”

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African billionaire heirs are making their mark in philanthropy

The progeny of some of Africas’s wealthiest people are putting in more of their time to giving and impacting.

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Tsitsi Mutendi, co-founder of African Family Firms.

For many years philanthropy and Africa have been marred by the images of poor African children, starvation and refugees fleeing war-torn zones. However, if you live on the continent, you will know that it’s a vibrant and colorful place that has its challenges like all geographic locations. Some of the images that have plagued Africa have been real, but they do not tell the holistic story.

As the world has evolved, so has Africa. With a lot more homegrown wealth and an increase in millionaires and billionaires on the continent, we have seen the introduction of African foundations created and led by African families, African family offices and African family businesses. Africa has one of the fastest-growing markets of high net-worth individuals, and many of these individuals are becoming entrenched in sustainable philanthropy.

You may ask, “Where is this money coming from?”

According to a report authored by AfrAsia bank in 2021, the total private wealth held in Africa was standing at $2 trillion as of December 2020. In addition to this homegrown wealth, according to the World Bank, Africa diaspora remittances being sent home were about $48 billion in 2020.

With all this money being found on the continent in its various forms, we are beginning to see African giving becoming the norm and pushed forward by the spirit of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù]) is a Nguni Bantu term meaning, “humanity.” It is sometimes translated as, “I am because we are.” Ubuntu is essentially about togetherness and how all of our actions impact others and society.

In Africa, this culture and way of life permeates to everyday gestures in the course of life. In the past, it applied to family, friends and community members, but now we are seeing it expand to a broader audience and in various ways. African philanthropists are looking towards impact and addressing issues they experienced or their communities experience in a way that changes the narrative and creates opportunities for their recipients.

Most notable about the giving is that the conversation is not only being led by the African founders or matriarchs and patriarchs, but next-gens are also equally putting in their weight and names to giving and impacting. Some of the notable next-gen givers are:

  • Florence “Cuppy” Otedola, and the Cuppy Foundation. Cuppy is the daughter of billionaire Femi Otedola. The Cuppy Foundation tackles child protection and education issues for girls and persons with disabilities (minorities). Cuppy has spearheaded several initiatives, such as her “Cuppy Takes Africa” tour in 2015 in partnership with Guarantee Trust Bank and the Dangote Foundation. She has also personally paid for multiple students to go to university in Nigeria and worked with various organisations such as the Global Citizen, Royal Commonwealth Society, and the Save The Children Initiative, where she raised over $13 million.
  • Elizabeth Tanya Masiyiwa, the daughter of Strive and Tsitsi Masiyiwa, is an executive director at Delta Philanthropies. Delta Philanthropies is a UK-registered charity founded by the Masiyiwa family and governed under the UK Charity Commission. Its strategic pillars include education, health, rural transformation and sustainable livelihoods, disaster relief and preparedness. Its impact has seen millions of dollars being put into creating a difference, and according to their website, it has impacted over 15 million people and counting.
  • Halima Aliko Dangote is a trustee for the Dangote Foundation. The foundation has become the largest private foundation in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the largest endowment by a single African donor. The foundation is interested in health, education, empowerment and humanitarian relief.
  • Naguib, Samih and Nassef Sawiris all sit on the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development board, a charity that provides microcredit to Egyptian entrepreneurs and grants scholarships to outstanding Egyptian students in tertiary institutions. 
  • A most notable next-gen founder and philanthropist is Mohammed Dewji. The Tanzanian billionaire joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give away at least half of his wealth to philanthropic causes. Dewji’s Mo Dewji Foundation focuses on three areas: health, education, and community development. Over five years, the Mo Dewji Foundation has spent more than $3 million in grants and other forms of funding for community service projects, supporting schools, hospitals and wells.

As we can now see, philanthropy is no longer just a buzzword. The global pandemic has highlighted why philanthropy is essential, especially when people are left marginalised. And Africa’s families have heeded the call and put their charitable giving to use. Next-gens being the key to continued giving, when they actively participate and lead the charge, they start exploring sustainable solutions in regions they are familiar with and communities they live amongst. It’s well worth seeing how the next-gens will drive the philanthropic future of the continent.

Through this work, we will see the values and vision of the various financial leaders of the continent and the future stewards of their wealth.

Tsitsi Mutendi is a co-founder of African Family Firms, an organization that aims to facilitate the continuity of African family businesses across generations. She is also the lead consultant at Nhaka Legacy Planning and the host of the Enterprising Families Podcast.

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