ShopUp, a Bangladesh-based B2B platform for neighbourhood shops, has raised $22.5 million, marking the largest Series A round in the country to digitalize country’s mom-and-pop shops.
Dhaka-headquartered ShopUp said on Tuesday it has raised $22.5 million in a round co-led by Sequoia Capital India and Flourish Ventures, reports the Economic Times.
ShopUp is the first investment by Sequoia Capital India and Flourish Ventures in Bangladesh.
For both the venture firms, this is the first time they are backing a Bangladeshi startup.
Veon Ventures, Speedinvest, and Lonsdale Capital also participated in the four-year-old ShopUp’s Series A financing round. ShopUp has raised about $28 million to date.
There are 4.5 million neighbourhood mom-and-pop shops in Bangladesh, known locally as Mudi Dokaans, that account for 98% of the country's retail sector.
This makes Bangladesh one of the most fragmented retail markets in Asia.
“This fresh round of funding will support us in increasing our retail reach, deepening our partnerships with manufacturers, and focusing on building tech-first infrastructure,” said Afeef Zaman, CEO of ShopUp.
These small shops are facing a number of challenges. They are not getting inventory on time or enough inventory and they are paying more than what they should, said Zaman.
And for these businesses, more than 73% (PDF) of all their sales rely on credit instead of cash or digital payments, creating a massive liquidity crunch. So most of these businesses are in dire need of working capital, he said.
Zaman declined to reveal how many mom-and-pop shops today use ShopUp, but claimed that the platform assumes a clear lead in its category in the country. That lead has widened amid the global pandemic as more physical shops explore digital offerings to stay afloat, he said.
The number of neighborhood shops transacting weekly on the ShopUp platform grew by 8.5 times between April and August this year, he said.
The pandemic also helped ShopUp engage with e-commerce players to deliver items for them.
“Sequoia India has been a strong supporter of the company since it was part of the first Surge cohort in early 2019 and it’s been exciting to see the company become a trailblazer facilitating digital transformation in Bangladesh,” said Klaus Wang, VP, Sequoia Capital, in a statement.
The startup has no intention to become an e-commerce platform like Amazon that directly engages with consumers, Zaman said. E-commerce is still in its nascent stage in Bangladesh. Amazon has yet to enter the country and increasingly Facebook is filling that role.
ShopUp sees immense opportunity in serving neighborhood stores, he said. The startup plans to deploy the fresh capital to deepen its partnerships with manufacturers and expand its tech infrastructure.
It opened an office in Bengaluru earlier this year to hire local tech talent in the nation. Indian e-commerce platform Voonik merged with ShopUp this year and both of its co-founders have joined the Bangladeshi startup.
Zaman said the startup will hire more engineering talent in India.
Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL) has recently achieved two awards conferred by VISA, a global payment service provider.
The awards are -'Excellence in Product Innovation' and 'Excellence in Prepaid Card Business'.
The awards were announced at the ‘VISA Leadership Concave’ held on October 15 in the digital platform.
The awards were given in recognition of instant virtual VISA card generation and maximum transactions through this card through Cellfin App of IBBL.
VISA awarded IBBL on the basis of business performance from July 2019 to June 2020 among its partner organisations.
Also read: IBBL Dhaka zone holds online conference
Global smartphone brand Vivo launched a new flagship smartphone of V-series, the Vivo V20, in Bangladesh.
Earlier on September 9, Vivo announced the launch of this new flagship phone.
The pre-booking was underway until October 15.
From Thursday, Bangladeshi customers will be able to buy the phone from different outlets and showrooms in the country.
Vivo added the revolutionary “Eye Autofocus” technology for the first time in this flagship, which technology can track and focus on moving objects too for clearer selfies.
Besides that, Vivo V20 also has some great technologies including AG glass, dual video camera. The smartphone has a 44MP selfie camera - the largest selfie camera ever. The phone will be available for 32,990 Tk in two fashionable colors – midnight jazz and sunset melody.
Three cameras have been added to the back of the Vivo V20 with a 4,000 mAh battery. The amazing 64MP Main Rear Camera, 8MP Multi-Function Camera (Super Wide Angle/Bokeh/Super Macro), and 2MP Mono Camera setup delivers ultra-clear and high definition photography experience. The device has an industry-leading 44MP selfie camera with Eye Autofocus feature. Due its super wide angle and super night mode Vivo V20 can deliver high definition quality and clarity in every shot.
V20 is powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 720G processor, delivers smooth performance for applications and games with vast 8GB RAM and 128GB ROM. It also has a 6.44-inch display with AG glass technology.
Managing Director of vivo Bangladesh Mr. Duke said, “In this midranged flagship phone, we have introduced Eye Autofocus technology for the customers to take advantage of professional photography in mobile photography. We also hope that this smartphone will be useful for taking online classes or creating social media content as it has dual video cameras. ”
Also read:Vivo brings new smartphone ‘V19’
The Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited inaugurated five new branches on Thursday.
They are – Dohazari Branch, Chattogram, Godagari Branch, Rajshahi, Hossainpur Branch, Kishoreganj, Muksudpur Branch, Gopalganj and Nangalkot Branch, Cumilla.
Md Mahbub ul Alam, Managing Director and CEO of the bank, was present at virtual inauguration programme as the chief guest. Mohammed Monirul Moula, Muhammad Qaisar Ali and Md Omar Faruk Khan, Additional Managing Directors of the bank, addressed the programme as special guest, the bank said in a press release.
Md Mosharraf Hossain, IBBL’s Deputy Managing Director, presided over the program. Head Office Executives & Officials, Head of concerned Zones & Branches, executives & officials, clients, well-wishers & dignitaries participated in the local functions and were also connected with the Head Office program virtually.
Alam said, “Islamic banking is a universal banking system. By providing welfare services to all people, IBBL has achieved global recognition. IBBL contributes significantly to the national foreign exchange reserve by collecting remittance.”
He said IBBL has achieved this position of excellence by dint of honesty and Shari’ah principles among its clients and officials as well as sincerity, dedication and modern technology rich services.
IBBL, the pioneer of Shari’ah banking, is currently providing state-of-art banking services through 366 Branches, 127 Sub-Branches, 1,604 Agent Banking Outlets and 1,065 own ATM/CRM Booths and about 11,000 shared ATMs and CRM booths.
Mentioning that the deposit of IBBL has crossed Tk1.11 trillion, he said the deposit of the bank has increased by about Tk 17,000 crore this year surpassing all records of the past.
IBBL is the only Bangladeshi bank in the list of top 1,000 banks in the world, the only AAA rated private bank in the country and World’s Best Islamic Bank CIBAFI Awarded bank which has become a symbol of trust and confidence of people of the country.
He directed the heads of branches and officials to work for the improvement of the living standards of the people of the country as well as the respective areas of these new branches.
He said Bangladesh economy is one of the fastest growing in the world and it is bouncing back from the challenges of Covid-19 under the visionary and prudent leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. IBBL is playing an important role in this development.
Also read: IBBL inaugurates sub-branch at Dhanmondi
Private mobile operator Robi now has 50 million subscribers.
Its Managing Director and CEO Mahtab Uddin Ahmed said their subscriber base swelled as the corona situation eased in recent times, proving the customers’ overwhelming preference for the company’s dual brands – Robi and Airtel.
At a digital press conference on Thursday, the company said it has chalked out a detailed celebration programme themed ‘5 Crore New Hopes’.
Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar attended the digital press conference as the chief guest. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Chairman Jahurul Haque was present as the special guest.
While making the announcement, Mahtab also declared that Robi and Airtel customers will receive 5 crore MB data bonus daily as part of the celebration. The free data can be availed by purchasing any of the popular data packs.
Mahtab said Robi and Airtel customers can also enjoy 200 MB free data just by installing or logging in to the country’s largest online school, Robi-10 Minute School app for the first time.
Starting today, the offer will be valid for a month.
Mahtab said Robi will also arrange feasts for orphanages located in around 50 districts of the country as part of the celebration.
“We are moving towards a new economy- the digital economy, where people will realise their aspirations through the digital route and we’re determined to be their partner in this journey by helping them reimagine life with the touch of technology,” he said.
BTRC Chairman Jahurul Haque said this milestone achievement has increased people’s expectation from Robi. “I’m sure Robi will honour the trust its customers have placed on it by introducing innovative digital service and ensure quality of service.”
Minister Jabbar congratulate Robi for the achievement.
“Telecom will provide the highway for the country to enter into the era of fourth industrial revolution. On that highway, I’ve always found Robi to be the most eager partner in the industry. I can only give a vision, but when I see Robi coming forward with the eagerness to implement the vision, I feel encouraged. I believe Robi is now standing on a strong foundation to contribute towards national digital transformation journey.”
Robi’s Chief Commercial Officer Shihab Ahmed noted that Robi was the first telecom operator to launch 3.5G service, only operator to launch 4.5G service in all 64 districts from the day of the launch, first telecom operator to launch VoLTE service in Bangladesh, first operator to test 5G service on our network. All these breakthrough achievements helped Robi to emerge as the most preferred telecom brand when MNP was introduced- 5 out of 7 customers chose to come to Robi through MNP, he opined.
He said that Robi has invested significantly behind network expansion and has thus created the widest 4.5G video strong network in the country.
Robi’s Chief Corporate and Regulatory Officer, Shahed Alam moderated the press conference.