Bridge financing, according to Investopedia, is an interim financing option used by companies and other entities to solidify their short-term position until a long-term financing option can be arranged, and it normally comes from an investment bank or venture capital firm in the form of a loan or equity investment.
Chari, a Moroccan business-to-business and retail startup, has raised a bridge round at a valuation of $100 million. The round follows Chari’s $5 million seed round that took place in October and valued the startup at $70 million. The round saw the participation of quite a number of investors including Afri Mobility, Air Angels, Khwarizmi Ventures, etc.
The startup has a mobile app where retailers can make orders from local manufacturers and fast-moving consumer goods multinationals and have them delivered within 24 hours. What the startup does is that it digitalizes the fast-moving consumer goods sector in Morocco and Tunisia where it is present.
The bridge funding round also follows Chari’s acquisition of Moroccan credit book app Karny.ma. Its acquisition offers credit and bookkeeping services to around 50,000 merchants, enabling them to handle the credit they hand out to their clients.
Chari has plans of offering payments facilities including the emerging category called buy-now-pay-later. Its acquisition of Karny, therefore, fits into this plan to provide payment services.
In a statement, Ismael Belkhayat, the CEO of Chari said mentioned that “Chari will use the money of this bridge round to test the BNPL services with its existing customers. Upon successful results, Chari will acquire a local credit company to enable shop owners to lend money to their end-users and further grow their business”. Karny will provide Chari with data on the loans provided to customers by grocery stores, thus allowing Chari to decide what type of credit to offer a customer. This means that data from Karny will allow Chari to find out about the items sold by the shop owners to their end clients and the amount lent. Through its internal closed-loop digital wallet, Chari will now offer payment terms and BNPL options to some of its shop owners based on their date of registration, order frequency, average basket order and amount of money lent to their end consumers.
Speaking about the plan to offer BNPL services, Chari’s CEO said that “Since this is just a pilot, I prefer to raise the money at a high valuation from funds that could help me with my strategy. I get a little diluted, but in exchange, I get a lot of help from experienced founders. Once the pilot succeeds, I will need much more funding for my working capital requirement and will raise debt instead of diluting equity.”
Chari will launch its BNPL services to Tunisia and others after successfully testing and launching in Morocco.