Dubai – MENA Herald: Crescent Enterprises, the UAE-based diversified conglomerate, today announced its foray into the rapidly growing African technology sector with an investment in Mara Group’s technology vertical. Crescent Investments, the strategic investment arm of Crescent Enterprises, led a group of private investors to forge an investment deal to support two business verticals under Mara Group – Mara Shopping and Mara Xpress.
Created to serve as an ecosystem for mobile and tech platforms, Mara Xpress and Mara Shopping connect people across Africa and the Middle East via e-commerce, m-commerce and last mile logistics. Mara Group, headquartered in the UAE, has already set up a distribution hub for Mara Xpress in Dubai, and is scheduled to roll out to countries across Africa in the next four years in collaboration with Mara Shopping.
With existing operations in sectors including ports and logistics, power and engineering, business aviation and healthcare, spanning across several global markets, Crescent Enterprises’ strategic investment in Mara Group articulates its ambition to expand its presence into Africa – where the multinational is actively exploring diverse investment opportunities, with the continent’s population projected to grow to 1.6 billion by 2025 and e-commerce sales estimated to surge from the current US$1 billion to US$75 billion in 2025.
Speaking on the opportunity, Badr Jafar, Chief Executive Officer of Crescent Enterprises, said: “The African continent boasts enormous potential for growth over the next decade, particularly in the technology sector. Our entry into this market in partnership with Mara Group is in line with Crescent Enterprises’ strategic expansion goals for 2016. We look forward to leveraging this opportunity to transfer our own experience in innovation and entrepreneurship into ventures that enable sustainable economic development in Africa.”
Ashish J Thakkar, Founder, Mara Group, said: “Mara’s tech vertical offers a complete end-to-end customer experience through Mara Shopping and Mara Xpress. We will also follow a different approach from current players in the market as Africa’s first two-way marketplace.”
He added: “Through our collaboration with the consortium of investors led by Crescent Enterprises, we have the opportunity to launch the platform later this year and really test and fine-tune the business model, which we believe will be key to scaling up and succeeding in the African market as a whole.”
Mara Shopping is a Middle East and Africa focused online marketplace that is set to become the leading e-commerce business in Africa by 2020. The platform will facilitate global brands to sell locally to African audiences, as well as African brands to sell nationally, regionally and globally. Mara Group has also set up Mara Xpress, a last-mile delivery service, to address the current challenges, which emerge from a lack of integration between the e-commerce platform and the delivery of products.