Asia Digest: Pakistan’s Dastgyr closes seed round; Australia’s Carbar raises $50m

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

Pakistan’s B2B e-commerce marketplace Dastgyr, which connects small retailers to suppliers, closed its seed round. Meanwhile, Australia’s first car subscription service platform Carbar raised a $50 million debt facility to fund the purchase of thousands of subscription cars.

Dastgyr bags $3.5m in seed round

Dastgyr, a B2B e-commerce marketplace connecting small retailers to suppliers in Pakistan, announced that it has raised $3.5 million in a seed round led by US-based venture capital firm SOSV.

The round also saw the participation of ADB Ventures, EquiTie, Seedstars, and Edgebrook Partners, besides a host of strategic institutional and angel investors from the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region such as Zayani Venture Capital and Tricap investments.

This brings Dastgyr’s total funding to $4 million, including its angel round in July 2020.

The corpus raised will go towards scaling operations and customer acquisition, hiring talent and launching products for financial inclusion in the third quarter of 2021.

Founded in 2020 during the peak of the pandemic by Muhammad Owais Qureshi and Zohaib Ali, Dastgyr aims to connect over 2 million underserved retailers in Pakistan and millions more in similar emerging markets directly to manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers to fix what is currently a fragmented supply chain.

Currently operational in both Karachi and Lahore, Dastgyr claims to have fulfilled orders worth millions of dollars for roughly 30,000 customers.

The startup aims to improve financial inclusion for retailers in Pakistan where a majority of the people are unbanked.

SME retailers are the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, representing a combined market of roughly $125 billion, about 30-40% of the country’s GDP.

“Pakistan is seeing the same patterns as India five years ago and China 10 years ago: with 75% of the population owning a smartphone, the first-movers in mobile-first services will be the winners. Dastgyr’s fintech offering [will be] a game-changer for the unbanked and underbanked while ensuring the success of their businesses,” said William Bao Bean, general manager at SOSV and managing director of MOX.

Carbar raises $50 million debt facility

Australia’s first car subscription service platform Carbar has raised a $50 million class A investment from Sydney-based credit investor Global Credit Investments (GCI), according to a press release.

The facility is aimed at funding thousands of new car subscriptions, adding further diversity to Carbar’s existing fleet of cars, which has recently grown to include EVs. The company is also planning to scale its operations in its existing markets and expand to other key Australian cities.

Established in 2016 by Des Hang, Carbar offers car subscription service from $145, which includes everything except fuel. The company says its number of subscribers has grown over 20x since its last funding round in June 2019.

“The ABS facility essentially creates a new asset class for investors. They get a stable stream of return and also exposure to a highly liquid asset class,” Carbar co-founder and CEO Des Hang said.

The ABS funding comes as Carbar is targeting closing a growth equity round in the coming weeks, with new and existing investors.

Hang said that their last funding round in 2019 had allowed them to launch in Sydney and Brisbane, and execute many back-end technology projects that allowed for smoother operations and faster growth.

“Our success to date has come on the back of timing, customer-centricity and service. We’ve had a huge uptick in demand as a result of the pandemic and increasing consumer interest in EVs. Many Australians are opting for private transport over public transport and that’s translated into a rush of customers for our service,” added Hang.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.