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  • UAE-based Cashew hits market raising over $70 million, among the largest by a BNPL startup in the country 09/08/2022

    Sep 8th, 2022

    UAE-based leading BNPL (buy now, pay later) venture startup is in the market for a mega fundraising round, with plans to mop up over $70 million – among the largest investment raising plan by a UAE-based startup so far in this fast-rising fintech segment. The venture is already in negotiations with a couple of family offices in Saudi Arabia and venture capital (VC) firms in the US and Singapore for the proposed fundraising, a top executive of the venture said. “We are starting our next round of investing, which is going to be our biggest round yet,” Ibtissam Ouassif, co-founder of Cashew told Arabian Business. “We are seeing interest from international and local players alike. It is an exciting time for fintech in general, especially in this part of the world, as it still catches a lot of attention and has plenty of room to grow and develop,” Ouassif said. The Cashew co-founder indicated that the proposed fundraising will be done through a mix of equity and debt. “The split could be approximately in the range of $15-$20 million in equity and over $50 million in debt,” revealed Ouassif, who is also the chief product officer of the venture. Significantly, Cashew has hit the fundraising circuit just three months after it raised about $10 million from the UAE bank Mashreq, with which it also has a partnership for payment options. The $50 million raised by Dubai-based BNPL startup Tabby last year is the highest so far. Saudi Arabia’s Tamara – another BNPL player in the region – however, tops the list in the region after raising a record $110m in a Series A round.“[We are talking to] a couple of family offices in KSA and have started discussions with a few VC firms in Singapore and USA,” Ouassif said, without naming them because of confidentiality issues. The talks with the US-based investment firms are expected to pick up momentum after the Labour Day holiday there on Monday. BNPL companies allow shoppers to pay for goods they purchase in instalments over several weeks or months. Cashew is seeking investments to finance an aggressive expansion plan in the Middle East region, amid an exponential growth in the BNPL segment, projected to hit a market size of $90 billion by 2030 in the region. “This year, we are expanding to Saudi Arabia, where we are working closely with the regulators to be able to offer these services. We will also launch in Oman in Q4,” Ouassif said. She said in 2023, the startup was planning to extend its services to the whole of GCC and would explore the wider MENA region as well. “With the added value of having a banking partner – [Mashreq] – Cashew is providing BNPL across higher ticket items and longer tenure which will open the doors to new industries such as education, healthcare and insurance within the UAE. With this, we will be targeting partners across the entire UAE region,” said Ouassif, among the few but growing number of female startup promoters in the Middle East. Mashreq bank reports 28.3% drop in net profit in Q1 2020 amid Covid-19 Cashew has hit the fundraising circuit just three months after it raised about $10 million from the UAE bank Mashreq Ouassif also revealed that the venture was eyeing more partnership models in the neighbouring markets for achieving faster growth. “As a startup in a market with multiple players, an efficient way to fast-track growth is through supportive partnerships with other financial entities,” she said, adding that what made Cashew unique was its model of partnering with banks. “In the UAE, we have partnered with Mashreq Bank. Naturally, it made sense to fast-track our merchant adoption through this partnership. “Seeing the success of this business model, we hope to replicate it in surrounding countries by partnering with other payment gateways,” she said. Ouassif, however, said the startup has no plans to venture outside the MENA region or add more verticals to its business platform at the moment. “We feel the MENA region has so much potential for the next five years. We want to further cultivate innovation and development in this part of the world. Regarding adding more verticals, she said: “The vision that we have for Cashew is to solidify ourselves as the tech innovator in the consumer financing space. We believe a customer-centric, tech-driven approach can provide innovative and convenient solutions, lowering risk exposure for all our stakeholders.”