A classifieds startup receives Sudan’s first foreign tech investment in over 25 years

by | Oct 12, 2021

Sudanese classifieds startup, alsoug has received a $5 million investment co-led by Egyptian fintech company, Fawry. The investment is the first foreign investment into the Northern African country since sanctions were lifted in 2020. 

alsoug is Sudan’s largest classifieds marketplace and allows consumers to buy and sell products including real estate, cars, electronics, and furniture as well as services and job postings.

Founded in 2016 by Tarneem Nina Saeed, the startup reportedly has nearly two million app downloads. With this investment, the startup plans to build out its payments platform, Cashi, to enable people withdraw, transfer, and deposit cash digitally.

Sudan’s political climate has earned its pariah status internationally with the European Union placing economic sanctions on it in 1994. The U.S followed in 1997 also adding the country to its terrorism watchlist. Consequently, financial institutions were unable to offer services to the country making it difficult for business transactions.

From 2017, the US government’s stance became relaxed as processes started by former president Barack Obama to lift the economic sanctions placed on Sudan were finally completed by President Donald Trump. However, the country remained on the U.S list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat, Omar al-Bashir accelerated Sudan’s return from the wilderness with a transitional government mandated to conduct elections within 39 months. 

Thus, Fawry’s investment in alsoug could be symbolic of the country’s potential and could see it become a major player in the North African tech ecosystem in the coming years. Tarneem Nina Saeed, alsoug’s CEO is optimistic that the investment would herald a new dawn for the country’s tech ecosystem. 

“This investment marks a significant milestone not just for alsoug, but for the nascent tech space in Sudan as a whole, which has until today been essentially shut out of the global capital markets. I hope this investment is the first of many and that the huge potential of the tech sector in Sudan is fully realized in the coming years.” 

A broken payments system caused by the sanctions presents a huge opportunity for fintech startups, one that alsoug looks poised to exploit with its $5 million war chest and support from Fawry. As Eng. Ashraf Sabry, Fawry’s CEO said,  “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.”

This developments could lead to numerous possibilities for the country and we would be keeping a close eye.

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