Behind the decision: investing in Sharwa

Arnav Danthi


August 10, 2022





Earlier this year, we co-led Sharwa’s $2M pre-seed round with Hambro Perks Oryx Fund and alongside a number of prominent angel investors, including notable alumni from Kitopi and Careem.

Sharwa is an innovative Egyptian social commerce platform democratizing access to e-commerce by making it more affordable, social and reliable for the base of the pyramid to acquire key household essentials such as fresh produce and groceries, appliances and homeware. The company’s social commerce model leverages community leaders (usually household mothers) to form community networks (mostly within the same neighborhood or social group) and combine their individual e-commerce baskets into a single, group order.

This ‘gamified’ e-commerce experience fascinated the Nuwa team, as it built virality into the product: each user acquired needs to invite three other customers to unlock a discounted price, incentivizing them to form larger groups and unlock further discounts. 

While digging deeper, we realized that the model was a viable and unique way to extend e-commerce to underserved communities, a segment which has historically faced high barriers to digital due to a general lack of trust and inhibiting infrastructure barriers (primarily delivery networks and payment methods).

This was largely due to efficiencies created in the aggregation of consumer demand via the ‘grouping’ of orders, resulting in:

  • A lower customer acquisition cost, as marketing is outsourced to community leaders who acquire end customers, resulting in minimum marketing spend for the company. In cases where the company would market directly, this would be attributed to a group vs. an individual consumer, yielding a lower acquisition cost per user
  • Operational efficiencies, especially in logistics costs, as the community leader would act as a single drop-off point for a consolidated basket, lowering the last-mile cost per user 
  • A higher average order value, making it economically viable to serve the demographic whose income and order size is limited, and providing the company a substantial buffer to yield favorable, positive unit economics

We believe that the wider region shares similar macro dynamics to other emerging markets where group models have proven to work, and given our deep conviction in the founding team, we believe that Sharwa can replicate this success in MENA.

Throughout our conversations with Alaa, Hassan and Hanafy, we were impressed with each individually. They were operationally experienced and had extensive experience scaling leading, regional tech startups – all three previously worked together at Careem, before venturing out separately in growth-roles at other regional startups such as Kitopi, Halan, and Hunger Station.

In addition to the individual capabilities, it was the combined team dynamic and camaraderie we saw when we visited their offices in Cairo that finalized our conviction. Their pragmatism and deep passion for their users from their previous tech roles was apparent, and is a testament to how far the entrepreneurship ecosystem has matured in the region.

With their passion and understanding of the challenges faced by members of underserved communities, we believe Sharwa can eliminate the trust gap the demographic has with e-commerce players, offer them bargaining power, and accelerate their onboarding to digital.

Arnav Danthi is Senior Associate at Nuwa Capital.