The Mumzworld story is a triumph for e-commerce startups and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Arab region. The journey of the two founders - Mona Ataya and Leena Khalil, has been an incredible one so far. Both women are exceptional entrepreneurs, who are also mothers building a business while raising a family. That is one unique and noteworthy mention and a very important one.
Mumzworld has been around for more than 10 years now, and the founders have gone through every possible challenge a startup can face. From fundraising, to losing early co-founders, to building a cross-border e-commerce business way before it was fashionable with all its bureaucratic and regulatory challenges, and competing with the big behemoth e-commerce companies, like Amazon and Noon.
The company’s decision to sell a majority stake to Saudi Arabia’s Tamer Group highlights an important move in the ecosystem - family businesses jumping into the fray by acquiring tech-led startups and digital companies in the region as a way for them to digitise and expand to the online markets, which helps them leapfrog their own internal development.
The region is dominated by family businesses, they are the engine of economic activity, but they have yet to make their move in the digital landscape, although there are a few notable exceptions, like MAF, Al Tayer, Chalhoub, and now, Tamer Group.
By engaging with startups and the digital space, family businesses have the power to transform the regional economies forever, but if they don’t, then they clearly have not learned the lessons of the pandemic.
They now have the choice of either investing in technology to transform their business, investing in startups that are already in their space, or acquiring such companies, which will get them talent, technology, and market share/presence. There are plenty of startups in the region that have built their businesses over the years, amassed a loyal customer base, honed their technology and understanding of the market - these startups present fantastic acquisition and partnership opportunities.
For the startups and the wider ecosystem in the Middle East, these types of investments or acquisitions led by family businesses help to keep the brands and companies in the region, to further develop the local ecosystem. For the entrepreneurs themselves, they can continue to build their businesses with very strong backing. Founders can benefit from family businesses’ longstanding experience and expertise as well as wider infrastructure. And it is important to mention, the startup ecosystem will continue to benefit from such founders whose experience can inspire and help other entrepreneurs.
When Wamda invested in Mumzworld, we loved the team and their ability to build and grow the business in this niche market of mother and baby products. Our confidence continued to grow as we saw the founders build a team, stay the course and stay resilient and even thrive in the worst days of the pandemic.