Crescent eyes Africa with stake in Mara

UAE conglomerate Crescent Enterprises will flex its muscles into Africa’s growing e-commerce sector by investing in Dubai’s Mara Group.

The firm’s investment arm, Crescent Investments, will support Mara Shopping and Mara Xpress covering mobile and technology platforms, with distribution scheduled to roll out to countries on the continent in the next four years. Investment details were not disclosed.

Mara Shopping will bring an online marketplace showcasing global brands to sell locally to African residents, as well as bringing African brands to the region. Mara Xpress will be the logistics arm that will bridge the gap between e-commerce and shipping.

A stake in Mara’s assets will help Crescent connect with people across Africa and the Middle East through e-commerce, m-commerce and last-mile logistics as the continent’s population continues to grow. “The African continent boasts enormous potential for growth over the next decade, particularly in the technology sector,” said Badr Jafar, the chief executive of Crescent Enterprises.

The continent’s telecommunications industry is the fastest growing in the world, covering more than half of the population up from less than 1 per cent 16 years ago, according to mobile operator Virgin. E-commerce is projected to rise to US$75 billion by 2025 from the current $1bn.

“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,” said Ashish Thakkar, the founder of Mara Group.

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