Pakistani fresh produce and grocery delivery startup MandiExpress raises $725,000 to expand across the country

Karachi-based fresh produce and grocery delivery platform MandiExpress has raised $725,000 in a Pre-Series A round, the startup announced in a statement to MENAbytes. The round was led by a local VC Lakson Investments Venture Capital (LIVC). Disurpt, another Pakistani investor who has been backing MandiExpress since its seed stage, also participated in the round with follow-on funding.

Founded in 2015 by Jehanzeb Chaudhri, MandiExpress allows consumers to order fresh produce (mainly) and groceries through its platform for next-day deliveries. According to its website, MandiExpress currently offers this in Karachi only but the statement by the startup notes that it has customers in Karachi & Lahore.

MandiExpress has warehouses at sabzi mandi (a term used locally for wholesale fruit and vegetable market) where it purchases, sorts, grades, and packages ‘high-quality’ produce from farmers and auctions, for delivery to its online customers. The orders on MandiExpress, according to its website, can be made until 12 am for next day deliveries between 1 pm to 9 pm.

The startup sources the products as and when they’re required by the customers. The practice which is known as just-in-time helps it minimize the waste to less than 1 percent whereas the industry average, according to the statement, stands at 40 percent.

MandiExpress claims to have documented the value chain at the fruit and vegetable wholesale market (sabzi mandi) in Karachi which allows it to buy the highest-grade produce at the lowest prices through real-time price discovery for customer orders received the night before.

Apart from fruits and vegetables, MandiExpress also sells meat, seafood, organic, gourmet food, and other groceries, some of which it says are not always available at local retailers.

In addition to selling through its online platform to households, MandiExpress also sells to restaurants and large organizations, other ecommerce platforms and the wholesale market.

The startup plans to use the latest investment to expand across the country.

Jehanzeb Chaudhri, the founder & CEO of MandiExpress, said that he had started MandiExpress five years ago to help local farmers after he learned about the problems they used to face, “The task seemed almost impossible at the time but today we are deeply integrated with the supply chain at multiple wholesale markets across Pakistan, gradually digitizing the entire value chain.”

Babar Lakhani, the CEO of Lakson Investments (the firm that LIVC is part of), had discovered MandiExpress after receiving fruits (as a gift) that were purchased on the platform. He was impressed with the high quality, taste, and packaging.

In a statement, Babar said, “Jehanzeb’s team has brought efficiency to a fragmented farm-to-table value-chain and I truly believe that MandiExpress is the first company in Pakistan to allow users to make a choice when it comes to sourcing produce from ethical and sustainable farms.”

Faisal Aftab, the Managing Partner of LIVC, added, “We loved the data aggregation of the farm to table value-chain by MandiExpress. The team has built a vertically integrated technology platform that captures asymmetric pricing in the value-chain, passing quality and cheaper pricing to customers while maintaining a healthy margin for the business.”

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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