Dubai based e-commerce platform Mumzworld, which facilitates products catering to mothers, babies, and children, has raised $20 million in Series B funding from financial services firm Gulf Islamic Investments (GII), the company’s founder Mona Ataya told Forbes Middle East in an exclusive interview.
The latest round, which also represents the largest ever women-led VC funding round in e-commerce, makes GII the single largest shareholder in Mumzworld.
The funding follows investments from Tamer Group, Wamda Capital, and Swicorp, alongside with six additional investors earlier this year. The funding will also be used to boost automation and launch vertical specific consumer offerings, aiding the company’s expansion within the region.
Ataya founded Mumzworld in 2011 along with fellow entrepreneur Leena Khalil after she noticed a gap in the market for a mother, baby, and child e-commerce platform. The startup found immense success in a region that was still embracing e-commerce.
Mumzworld’s sales have doubled in the last few years while its employee base has tripled since last year. With new markets in sight, Ataya plans to add to the company’s headcount as she plans to expand her team to 240 members in the next 12 months, from 130 currently.
Ataya explained that the latest round of funding will be used to scale Mumzworld’s operations, specifically in Saudi Arabia, a market that the company has seen a strong growth in.
“Saudi Arabia is a very important market,” says Ataya. “It is not the only market, but it is a very important market since it is very sizeable. We have grown our Saudi footprint along very significantly. The country represented just 20% of our business a year ago but now, around 50% of our business comes from there.”
But despite having a rich consumer base, the Kingdom has been largely underexploited by most e-commerce players mainly due to the high barriers of entry. Ataya’s strategy has been to choose her investors with care when planning her growth in the Gulf’s biggest economy. “We had (Saudi Arabia) in our horizon and we chose (some of) our investors based on their strength in Saudi,” she adds.
One of Mumzworld’s recent investors Tamer Group (distributor of Johnson & Johnson), is an experienced player in the Kingdom. Ataya says she is hoping to tap into their expertise in infrastructure, last mile, warehousing, and supply chain complexities to help scale faster in Saudi Arabia. She has also made some minor changes within her platform in Saudi Arabia such as making the website bilingual while offering both an English and an Arabic app for Mumzworld users in the Kingdom.
In 2019, Ataya’s focus will be to solidify Mumzworld’s presence in the GCC after which she plans to strengthen its presence in the Levant. However, she admits that such expansion could materialize much faster too.
With such a pace of expansion, Ataya indicated that she has had many suitors who were interesting in acquiring Mumzworld. “Our ultimate objective is to build the most respected and largest mother, baby, child company in the Arab world and we are always having conversations that lead us in that direction. If that means partnership, acquisition, sell out…but if they allow us to get one step further then we go down that path,” she added.