Karachi-headquartered, 16-month-old B2B e-commerce startup Bazaar has raised USD 30 million in the largest Series A round for a Pakistani startup. The deal comes just seven months after Bazaar’s seed round. It was led by California-based early-stage venture capital firm Defy Partners and returning investor Wavemaker Partners.
It also included participation from US-based Acrew Capital, Japan’s Saison Capital, Zayn Capital, B&Y Venture Partners, a Silicon Valley-based growth fund, as well as existing investors Indus Valley Capital, Global Founders Capital, Next Billion Ventures, and Alter Global. Several angel investors—including current and former leaders of Antler, Careem, Endeavor, Gumroad, LinkedIn, and Notion—were also part of the deal.
Bazaar was founded in mid-2020 by Saad Jangda and Hamza Jawaid. Its mission is to build an operating system for traditional retail in Pakistan, allowing retailers to directly connect with wholesalers and manufacturers. Its mobile-only B2B e-commerce marketplace enables retailers in Karachi and Lahore to procure inventory for their stores. The startup also launched a digital ledger app called Easy Khata this year to help retailers in Pakistan manage their bookkeeping. In a statement, Bazaar said that the two apps have served over 750,000 merchants to date.
The company also noted in its statement that the startup has a loyal customer base with 90% retention. “The strong engagement and retention comes as a result of its deep focus on simplicity and delight in its products,” it said.
Kamil Saeid, a partner at Defy Partners, said, “What Bazaar has managed to accomplish in the last year is incredible. We are extremely impressed by the speed and robustness with which they build and deploy. As Defy’s first investment into Pakistan’s burgeoning tech ecosystem, we feel Bazaar is on its way to create a category-defining company for the country.”
The Pakistani startup has also been testing its lending offering, a “buy now, pay later” service for retailers, in private beta. The early results have been phenomenal, said Bazaar in a statement, explaining that the wallet share of the retailers who have used the service has doubled and the repayment rates are close to 100%.
Paul Santos, managing partner at Wavemaker Partners, said, “We’ve been investing in FMCG B2B marketplaces across the region since 2017. After working with Hamza and Saad over the past year, we’ve been impressed by their customer-centric approach to product development and the speed of their learning and execution. It’s no surprise that they’ve received glowing reviews from their customers and partners. We’re excited to support Bazaar as they solidify their market leadership and digitize Pakistan’s retail ecosystem.”
There are at least ten B2B e-commerce marketplaces currently operating in Pakistan with tens of millions of dollars in venture capital invested in the industry over the past 12 months. With this latest financing round, Bazaar has raised around USD 38 million to date. It is the best-funded player in the space and one of the best-funded startups in Pakistan. The company aims to use the money to expand its e-commerce marketplace to more cities in Pakistan, expand its product stack, and scale its financial service.
In a statement, Bazaar’s founders said, “Bazaar is going after a massive opportunity with the ultimate aim of creating a generational story in and from Pakistan. In a country with incredible talent and huge market opportunity, it’s about time we create an inspirational story that brings together the country’s best talent who can go on to create many such stories in the future.”
This article first appeared in MENAbytes.