Yassir, an African super-app platform that offers on-demand services such as taxi transportation, food and grocery delivery, and payments, has raised $150 million in Series B funding, five times more than in its previous prize round last November.
The investment was led by BOND, the growth stage that spawned Mary Meeker from Kleiner Perkins in 2018. Other investors in the growth round include DN Capital, Dorsal Capital, Quiet Capital, Stanford Alumni Ventures and Y Combinator through the Continuity Fund. , among other strategic investors.
The African startup, first launched in Algeria, has now raised $193.25 million since its founding in 2017. While its valuation has not been disclosed, Yassir considers itself the most valuable startup in North Africa and one of the most valued startups in Africa and the Middle East, where it plans to expand in the coming months.
When CEO Noureddine Tayebic Yassir, the aim was to build a super app that people — in the French-speaking Maghreb region comprising Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia — had little or no access to on one platform. So far the performance has been perfect. Not only does the company offer ride-hailing and food and grocery delivery services (via Yassir Express) in 45 cities in six countries, but this report also says that three of the five on-demand operations in Algeria, the first market, are made through the platform.
This calculated growth has brought Yassir closer to his overarching banking and payment plan. According to Tayebi, the provision of on-demand food and transportation services was the entry point that enabled Yassir to gain the trust of users – which he believes is one of the reasons why most Africans do not have a bank account – for this endeavor.
In perspective, Morocco, one of Yassir’s main markets, has more than 65% of the Moroccan population without a bank account, and according to a 2018 McKinsey report on growth and innovation in African retail banking, 57% of the population of the continent does not have any form of bank account. Yet the report also points out that 40% of Africa’s banked population prefer digital channels for transactions. Yassir therefore argues that providing a mobile banking solution to consumers as part of a wider range of services will meet a vital need in the African market, where 50% of the population has internet access.
“Our business model was a super add and payments model from day one. When we first started, the observation was that most people didn’t have a bank account, and the main reason is that people don’t trust the banking systems here for various reasons,” the CEO told TBEN in an interview. “We thought we could provide on-demand services that solve the immediate needs where people spend their money. We knew that if we performed well, we could have a large user base that subconsciously trusts us, which we believe was relevant to the provision of payment services.”
Yassir’s financial services serve its versatile market ecosystem, which includes 8 million users (more than 2.5x from last year) and 100,000 partners comprising drivers, couriers, traders, suppliers and wholesalers. Yassir leverages this network – which also includes a B2B e-commerce retail section connecting fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) suppliers with merchants – for his payments, assembled on top-of-the-line wallet facilities and deploying drivers and couriers as money agents.
The company’s performance was good for the money, not counting contributions from the recently launched financial services. In the interview, Tayebi mentioned that the all-in-one ecosystem app, which offers its customers a total solution for managing their daily activities, from traveling to work to ordering groceries and meals, has surpassed $50 million in GMV and $10 million in revenue since launch.
What’s next for the YC supported platform with components from Uber, DoorDash, Udaan and PayPal? “First, we want to create a local tech startup success model that will be emulated by others and more by Yassir team members,” Tayebi replied. “Secondly, we want to strengthen the local talent and, most importantly, the technical talent that often leaves the region, mainly to Europe, to further study or find a job,” added the chief executive, who after obtaining a Ph.D. . at Stanford and 15 years in Silicon Valley, where he worked at several companies, returned to Algeria in 2016 to get involved in the country’s burgeoning technology scene.
As such, Tayebi, who founded Yassir with Mahdi Yettou, says the startup plans to invest heavily in its engineering and product teams by at least tripling their size. He also highlighted how the funding will help Yassir – which has offices in Algeria, Canada, France, Morocco and Tunisia – consolidate its growth, roll out new services in existing markets and expand directly into new geographies in Africa. and the Middle East. or through acquisitions.
“While we like to think of ourselves as leaders in the Maghreb region, we’re just scratching the surface, and there’s still a lot of room to grow,” said the Silicon Valley-based Algerian entrepreneur, noting that Yassir is not among the impressed by the duopoly of Uber and Bolt in the ride-hailing category in some of the markets it plans to expand into. His confidence stems from Yassir’s dominance in key markets where Uber subsidiary Careem is struggling.
Yassir is one of five African-focused startups to close a mega round this year – that is, investment rounds of more than $100 million. The self-described most valuable North African startup joins Flutterwave, Wasoko, Instadeep and Sun King on the shortlist, which has included ten startups since last year. This reduced number is a clear example of how quickly markets are changing and reflects the ongoing global macroeconomic challenges that have caused startups to lay off employees, lower valuations or go bankrupt. But while startups have generally faced a stricter fundraising environment this year, Tayebi claims that was not the case with Yassir.
“In our first few years, we had a hard time raising money because of the region we operate in, despite performing well,” he said. “That forced us to be frugal and be aware of the unit economy, profitability and burn rate. And with the market shifts, we were still able to show that we had grown significantly with an excellent unit economy. So fundraising was easier because we grew so that VC companies could no longer ignore us.”
Daegwon Chae, a general partner at BOND, one of these VC firms, said his company’s main investment in Yassir is based on a sense that technology will “redesign” consumers’ relationships with transportation, food and financial services worldwide. “This investment is an extension of that belief in a deprived but dynamic, fast-growing region. The app hails from North Africa and has already become indispensable to users for critical aspects of their lives,” he added.