From left to right, Amidou Diarra, cofounder of Diago App, Ali Ouattara, cofounder of Diago App, and Cyrille Jacques, vice president of expansion for Chari. Image source: Chari
The Moroccan B2B e-commerce and fintech company Chari made the announcement today that it has purchased a 100 percent investment in the Ivorian app Diago. Diago is an app that connects neighborhood businesses to FMCG makers and importers. Chari is based in Morocco.
The all-stock transaction was managed by AF Legal and RBB International firms, which represented Chari. Houda Law Firm, which represented the Ivorian startup, was also involved in the transaction.
This deal comes just three months after Chari purchased Axa Lending for $22 million, which is the credit arm of Axa Assurance Maroc. Chari has now made and publicized three successful acquisitions in the span of 10 months, the most recent of which was an app for bookkeeping that it purchased in August of the previous year.
Ismail Belkhayat, CEO of Chari, who co-founded the firm in 2020 with his wife Sophia Alj (COO), stated that "the secret of a successful expansion is to establish a local team that masters the dynamics of the local market." Sophia Alj was Chari's COO at the time. The true difficulty lies in persuading local business owners to collaborate with Chari in order to speed up the company's expansion.
In an interview with TechCabal from the previous year, Belkhayat stated that the company's objective is to become the market leader across francophone Africa. Today, the company is making its first significant excursion and has pledged to "continue to surround ourselves with young and ambitious entrepreneurs from francophone Africa to establish together a pan-African behemoth of FMCG and financial services distribution."Chari might soon become Morocco’s first unicorn
Diago is a company that was established in 2021 by Ali Ouattara and Amidou Diarra, who had previously held management positions at Glovo and PepsiCo. The company operates solely in the city of Abidjan, which is the capital of Côte d'Ivoire and is one of the most populous French-speaking cities in Africa.
Ouattara and Diarra, who had initially sought capital and market and tech advisory before deciding to exit to the Moroccan, will continue in their roles as CEO and COO, respectively, according to a statement released by Chari. Chari issued the announcement. Before spreading their footprint to other Sub-Saharan countries, which is Chari's ultimate goal, the two partners will oversee the growth of local businesses.
Cyrille Jacques, Vice President of International Expansion at Chari, stated that the company's complete support functions will be provided to the entirety of Diego's team. The Diago team will receive assistance in the setting up of operations, information technology tools, and customer service from Chari's Casablanca back office.
The practice of African start-up companies participating in mergers and acquisitions (M&A), both domestically and internationally, and particularly cross-regional transactions, is becoming increasingly popular. Only one month ago, a Nigerian automotive technology firm called Autochek made its way to northern Morocco in order to purchase KIFAL Auto. Now, Chari is in the process of acquiring a startup in West Africa.
According to Belkhayat, the company is in the process of raising a significant series A. If Belkhayat's two-year-old firm has already made three acquisitions and is active in three countries—Morocco, Tunisia, and now Cote d'Ivoire—then who knows what he'd do with the "huge series A" when it finally closes? The fundraising round was just over $7 million.