Sudan’s biggest digital classifieds and marketplace Alsoug has raised $5 million and plans to establish a national payments network enabling quick, easy and safe transactions for citizens in the country. The fundraising is a huge deal as it is the first international venture capital investment into a tech company since the country lifted international sanctions in 2020; the investment in Alsoug is the first of its kind in almost 30 years.
Egypt’s Fawry led the investment in Alsoug. Alsoug was founded in 2016 and currently has almost two million downloads for its mobile platform. It gives Sudanese citizens a platform to sell and purchase whatever good and/or service that they need. It has a wide listing that covers categories such as cars, electronics, real estate, furniture, job listings, etc.
The investment marks a new era for Sudan which was one of the countries with huge prospects regarding the growth of technology in Africa. The country’s population of 41 million gives it an edge over so many other African countries but it has been at the back of the queue in matters relating to technology in Africa as a result of the period of almost 30 years characterized by international sanctions. Now that these sanctions have finally been lifted, the country is ready to get back on its feet again. For fintechs like Alsoug, their responsibilities include narrowing the financial inclusion gap and rebuilding the country’s reputation of integrity so that foreign investors can find the country attractive once more.
“From our earliest beginnings, we have focused on enabling anyone in Sudan to buy and sell whatever products and services they need, no matter who they are or where they live. But today, ordinary Sudanese consumers and businesses still have limited ways to make payments. This investment enables us to expand our services in fintech so that everyone in the country has the financial freedom they deserve and are able to transact in a fast, transparent, simple, and digital way”, Tarneem Saeed, the CEO of Alsoug said.
She also added that “These are exciting times for Sudan, which has a bright future now that it has moved on from a long period of isolation. This was once the land of opportunity in Africa, a country full of natural resources, with a small but educated and very entrepreneurial workforce – and it will be that country again. Fintech has been one of the fastest-growing industries across Africa in the past decade because of its huge user base. With this fundraising, we expect Sudan to catch up with the rest of the continent”.
The CEO also commented on how Alsoug (alongside other platforms that provide services online) is empowering women. “I am particularly proud of the important role we have played in breaking barriers for women in the country. By moving traditionally male-dominated public spaces online, we have enabled women to take charge of key life purchases like cars, real estate and electronics, so they no longer have to be reliant on a man”.
Apart from its classifieds and e-commerce services, Alsoug is planning to place more focus on its payments platform Cashi and will be leveraging Fawry’s technology. The company plans to grow its payments platform to an extent that it can compete with any other African payments platform, and grow its user base.
“We’re delighted to be kicking off our partnership with Alsoug, one of Sudan’s most exciting prospects and a Sudanese leader in tech innovation. This is our first investment outside of Egypt in our thirteen years of operation, and we’re confident that our story with Alsoug and Cashi will be a special one. Fawry’s investment in Alsoug delivers on our plans to venture into underserved international markets by leveraging our technology and teaming up with strong local players. This investment will allow us to strategically expand our footprint into Africa and transfer the experience we’ve gained in the dynamic Egyptian market to neighbouring Sudan, an economy with major potential across several sectors and with a significant pool of entrepreneurial talent. Meanwhile, Fawry’s strategic partnership with Alsoug leaves it ideally placed to help guide the platform’s rollout of a countrywide payments system, a feat which Fawry has already managed through a scalable, robust, and best-in-class technology platform”, Fawry’s CEO Eng. Ashraf Sabry said about the deal.
The investment in Alsoug also raised the eyebrows of the government. Magdi Amin, Senior Advisor to Sudan’s Minister of Finance said that “Following three decades of sanctions, international isolation and limited official development support, the economy has developed without full participation in the digital revolution that continues to transform industries globally. This is a significant opportunity for Sudan to make up for lost time. We welcome foreign investment into promising Sudanese businesses, a key part of our economic plan to drive growth in the financial, technology, agriculture, mining, and infrastructure sectors.”