E-commerce platform Kenzz wants to bring shopping and complementary services to thee mass market in Egypt and other MENA areas. The startup was founded this February by Ahmed Atef, Mahmoud Al Silk, and Moatez Sami. Kenzz has secured $3.5 million in its seed funding round, and US-based and MENA-focused Outliers Ventures was the lead investor of this round. Other participants of this round include investors like HOF Capital, Foundation Ventures, and Samurai Incubate.
The newly-received funding will be used to grow Kenzz’s product categories, widen the product categories on its platform, hire talents and invest in tech as it launches its app.
According to reports, in Egypt, 20 percent of startups in the country exist in the e-commerce and retail sectors. Factors such as a young and urban population which continues to increase as the internet and mobile penetration increases, continue to drive the creation of these startups in the country. Statistics show that on a weekly basis, about 40 percent of Egyptians buy their consumer goods online.
Kenzz’s founders, as well as a handful of other founders in the space, believe that e-commerce is yet to be fully realized and optimized in both Egypt and the MENA region. According to Kenzz’s CEO and co-founder Ahmed Atef, this was the purpose for which the startup was launched; to widen e-commerce adoption in the country.
Currently, Egyptian online shoppers use big e-commerce as Souq now Amazon Egypt, Jumia, Noon, and Social Commerce platforms optimizing Facebook and others. According to Ahmed Atef, both models have been able to successfully increase e-commerce activities in the country, but these big players overlook the mass market and instead place their focus on the country’s three largest cities – Cairo, Alexandria, and Giza. He also added that smaller social platforms tend to be unreliable and unorganized, hence Kenzz plans to thrive on the shortcomings of both and make products available to the mass market in a reliable and organized manner.
“We’re going after a completely different segment that Amazon and the big platforms are not looking at as they are centralized in big cities and towards the people who are comfortable buying online. What we’re doing is bringing that experience much closer to the masses and building a reliable, trustworthy e-commerce platform that caters specifically for the mass market, solving for the barriers to buying, whether it’s trust, affordability, and relevance while capitalizing on social engagement and social interaction aspects of e-commerce,” he said.
Kenzz is employing a B2C model and its platforms will be devoid of middlemen and resellers. Its model will see it get products directly from its producers and offer them to customers who request them. This way, customers know where these goods are coming from and get to purchase them at lower prices, Ahmed Atef said adding that customers who make collective purchases with friends and family can get discounts of up to 65 percent.
“Most users didn’t see the need to pay for deliveries as they could buy offline and get the product themselves. However, they are finding out that they pay more for transportation. So what was interesting in the pilot is that we’ve seen that people want to share this burden as it became a major pain point when we talked with consumers. So when you’re buying with your friends, we can deliver the order to one place. They get to unlock more savings when they choose this approach,” CEO and co-founder Ahmed Atef added.
He also added that this model provides stakeholders; local manufacturers and SMEs, with data on customers’ needs and additional insights. The startup is yet to launch fully into the market as it is fine-tuning its offerings to meet customers’ needs. Ahmed Atef, however, said that when the platform soft-launched for two months, thousands of customers used the platform within the time frame and 50 percent of orders came from outside the country’s big cities. “Those numbers help prove this vast potential outside the big cities where people were not comfortable buying online. But when you’re so relevant to them, in terms of brand products, prices, and experiences, you unlock this huge potential,” he said.
Sarah AlSaleh, a partner at lead investor Outliers Venture Capital emphasized how the startup’s model was solving two major problems of affordable and reliable last-mile logistics and an uncompromising customer trust philosophy. She also commended Kenzz’s founding team and said their experience working with top companies like Google, Vodafone, Jumia and Amazon was one of Outliers Venture Capital’s reasons for investing. “The diversity and depth of Kenzz’s founding team strongly position them to combine a multitude of experiences and expertise into creating a category-defining company and e-commerce champion for Egypt,” she said.