Recent research suggests that the e-commerce market in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt account for a combined $21.4 billion and is projected to grow by more than 50% to $33.3 billion in the next three years. And as MENA shoppers increase their commerce spending, it is increasingly becoming imperative for online stores to position themselves to take full advantage of the growing phenomenon.
FlapKap, using its revenue-based financing platform (RBF), is helping these stores solve the growth-destructive challenges that emerging online stores encounter when trying to meet customer demands. The company, which allows e-commerce businesses to scale and grow by targeting businesses with limited bank or venture financing access, is announcing that it has raised $3.6 million in seed funding to supercharge its efforts.
Ahmad Coucha and Khaled Nassef founded FlapKap in 2022; Sherif Bichara and Adel Hodroj are on the founding team. It was during Coucha’s time at Kijamii, a digital agency upstart he launched in 2014 that conducted projects for Fortune 500 companies, that the CEO noticed late payment and access to working capital issues businesses, including his, faced. For instance, most of Kijamii’s clients always paid late, sometimes 30 to 120 days from when a sale closed.
“We always thought to ourselves that this should be the exact opposite. Big clients with massive amounts of cash shouldn’t be the ones that get super flexible payment terms from the agencies; it should be the small and medium enterprises struggling for cash and growth. These should be getting the support,” CEO Coucha told TechCrunch.
In 2021, Coucha spent some time in the U.S. and witnessed the rise of revenue-based financing platforms in the country and the West, including Clearco and Wayflyer. The idea to replicate a similar operation for MENA popped up, hence the launch of FlapKap. The company serves mainly SaaS and e-commerce platforms just like most revenue-based financing companies but has more clientele on the former than the latter.
E-commerce operations have flexible payment terms that suit FlapKap’s business as they spend a lot on advertising, marketing and inventory, recurring activities responsible for these brands making late payments or taking loans to remain operational. “SaaS is still growing in its early stage in the Middle East, but it’s not yet sizable. On the other hand, e-commerce is booming in all parts of the world, and is underserved by the current finance infrastructure in the Middle East and Africa,” he added on his company’s preference for e-commerce brands in both regions.
FlapKap’s business model is one where it finances e-commerce platforms’ expenditures and recoups its money when these brands pay back a percentage of their revenues until repayment is complete. In other words, FlapKap adds a fixed fee — split to be paid in percentages from their revenues within a specific timeframe — to whatever amount its clients access on its platform. FlapKap claims to have helped generate more than an 85% increase in revenue and over 70% increase in net profits within a few months for its customers.
The revenue-based financing company for e-commerce platforms, which claims to be growing 300% quarter over quarter, also mentioned that it has partnered with tens of clients from Egypt and UAE in six months. Some include Dresscode, Raw African, Palma and Tam’s Shoemaker. FlapKap has also recently integrated its AI-based insights and financial data analytics with Shopify, WooCommerce, Facebook and Google, and expects to strike more partnerships, it said in a statement.
“Aside from the financing solutions we offer our partners, we also give them other value-added services to help them go further. So we always like to position ourselves as a growth partner; we’re not just financing,” said the chief executive. “We want to drive growth. We have a model work in progress built for identifying the clients’ growth potential; it’s a model we are currently building and getting enhanced daily by the data we’re collecting.”
This latest capital injection comes six months after FlapKap’s pre-seed raise and the investors on board are strategic for FlapKap. QED, for instance, has invested in some of FlapKap’s global counterparts, such as Wayflyer and Fairplay. The fintech-focused venture capital firm used Bolt, its arm for investments in the Middle East, to complete the transaction. There’s also Egyptian government-backed Nclude, legacy Pan-African investor A15 and Outliers. “I’m excited to be building FlapKap along with them,” said Coucha. “I think they are not just investors; they are real partners in what they’re doing for us now and expected to do in the future as well,” said Coucha.
With the new funding, FlapKap plans to increase its capacity to help more e-commerce businesses in the MENA region scale and maximize their growth potential, as well as consolidate its position as the region’s leading revenue-based financing player. The company aims to solidify its presence in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt by offering e-commerce businesses the ability to scale their inventory and digital ads now, while flexibly paying later. Gbenga Ajayi, a partner at QED, commented on the investment: “Having invested and worked with similar companies to FlapKap across other regions such as Europe and Latin America, we are confident this team can attain similar success.”