Saudi Arabia’s online marketplace Sary, which connects small businesses with merchant wholesalers, has bagged $6.6 million in financing to accelerate expansion as coronavirus-driven demand for essential items boosts appetite for its services.
Under an ambitious reform drive guided by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to diversify the economy away from oil, Riyadh plans to ramp up small and medium enterprises’ contribution to GDP to 35% by 2030, from a current 20%.
Young Saudis have rushed to start small companies, backed by new technologies and digital infrastructure and many of those are now flourishing as people rely heavily on web-based applications with curfews and lockdowns imposed in many cities.
Sary has two centers in Dammam and Jeddah and plans to use the “Series A” seed funding, led by early-stage venture capital fund Raed Ventures, to launch a third in Riyadh, allowing it to deliver in 25 cities across the dominion, said the startup’s CEO Mohammed Aldossary.
Saudi Arabia has required the closure of malls, restaurants, coffee shops and other public areas to combat the virus, boosting online enterprise opportunities for big retailers.
Danube online, considered one of Saudi Arabia’s largest supermarket groups, said last week that average daily sales in the 10 days to March 26 had been up over 200% and average order value was up 50%.