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Saudi F&B procurement start-up Kaso raises $10.5m in seed round to fund expansion

Company has launched a FinTech platform and plans to achieve a gross merchandise value of $1bn in 12 months

Kaso, a Saudi Arabian start-up, has raised $10.5 million in a new seed funding round and launched a FinTech platform that it will use to boost its operations in the Middle East food and beverage procurement market.

The business-to-business company aims to scale up its restaurant supply management tools to enhance its services that are being used by its 5,000-plus partners in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The goal is to achieve a gross merchandise value of $1 billion in 12 months, Kaso said on Wednesday.

Dubai-based Spade Ventures, Saudi Arabia’s Hala Ventures and Seedra Ventures, Oman-based Cyfr Capital, Jersey’s BY Venture Partners, San Francisco’s Pioneer Fund and Singapore’s Vulpes Ventures participated in the funding round.

Other participants include regional family offices and other strategic investors from Saudi Arabia, as well as previous investors Global Founders Capital, from Germany, and Singapore’s MSA Novo, both of which led Kaso’s initial $2.1 million seed round in 2021.

Silicon Valley-based Y Combinator is also an investor.

“It is very encouraging to see strong regional and international investors joining us, especially considering the challenges some start-ups currently face in the fundraising market,” said Manar Alkassar, co-founder of Kaso.

Kaso’s goal is to “revolutionise” the F&B supply chain, one of the world’s oldest industries, and steer its operations away from traditional methods to a more streamlined and technology-backed ecosystem, it said.

Digitalising the relationship between restaurants and suppliers can improve efficiency and transparency in the food supply chain, as well as reduce food waste in the region, Kaso said.

The company launched its FinTech platform to tackle such inefficiencies, Mr Alkassar said.

“It will offer payments and credit facilities to restaurants, further solving key challenges in the industry,” he said.

Kaso did not disclose its expansion plans beyond the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Representatives from the company were unavailable to respond to a request for comment from The National.

Start-ups around the world continuously seek investment to fund their operations and advance their products.

In Dubai, start-ups raised more than $2 billion collectively last year, double the financing secured in 2021, as the emirate focuses on becoming the global destination of choice for digital entrepreneurs.

More than 30 per cent of funding rounds in the Mena region are attributed to start-ups in Dubai, while 87 per cent of all funding rounds for UAE-based companies are for start-ups in the emirate, a Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy study showed last month.

Meanwhile, the region’s F&B sector is a highly competitive industry in which restaurants, delivery companies and procurement service providers position themselves for a slice of the market share.

The Middle East, with about 300,000 restaurants, trails North America (1.47 million), Europe (1.98 million), Latin America (2.35 million) and the Asia-Pacific (17 million), data from Statista shows.

However, it is still a very lucrative market as demands in the F&B supply chain – from restaurants seeking to streamline their services to consumer preferences for quick deliveries – continue to grow.

In the GCC, the F&B market is projected to hit $128.2 billion by 2029, up from an estimated $94.4 billion in 2023, at a compound annual growth rate of more than 6.1 per cent, according to research firm OCO Global.

“Our platform has already made a significant impact in reducing inefficiencies in the industry and we are confident that we can continue to make strides towards a more sustainable future,” said Ahmed Soliman, co-founder of Kaso.

Kaso was founded in 2021 and has grown fivefold since, it said. Among the notable brands under its partners portfolio are Burger King, Buffalo Wild Wings, Caribou Coffee, Chili’s and Tim Hortons.

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