(Bloomberg) — An Egyptian e-commerce business linking traditional retailers with suppliers of products such as food and groceries plans to expand in North Africa and the Gulf after an early-stage funding round.

Cairo-based MaxAB raised $40 million from RMBV and seven others including the International Finance Corp. and Flourish Ventures, according to a statement on Monday. It plans to use the proceeds to help extend its operations to all of Egypt’s major cities by year-end, co-founder Belal El-Megharbel said in an interview.

MaxAB, founded in 2018 and a one-stop supplier for a network of mom-and-pop stores in Egypt’s greater Cairo and Delta regions, saw annual revenue climb more than fivefold last year, according to El-Megharbel, who’s also chief executive officer. The company plans to expand internationally “within the next few months,” he said, without naming countries.

The Middle East and North Africa “is the new Southeast Asia,” El-Megharbel said. “It has a relatively young population that’s rapidly growing, access to capital and talent is improving significantly, and digitization initiatives across the region are catalyzing the growth of tech companies.”

The business-to-business platform is the latest Egyptian startup to lure international capital, following in the recent footsteps of digital payments provider Paymob and trucking app Trella. Delivery and logistics businesses have also received a boost from the pandemic.

Investors are increasingly looking to tap into growth sectors in the Arab world’s most populous nation. The other investors in MaxAB’s Series A round are Crystal Stream Capital, Rise Capital, Endeavour Catalyst, Beco Capital and 4DX Ventures.

Covid-19 “has highlighted the unique structure of Egypt’s economy, with hundreds of thousands of shopkeepers and small businesses becoming the lifeline of our country at the time of crisis,” said Ahmed Bedreldin, managing partner at lead investor RMBV and previously a partner at Dubai-based Abraaj Group, which collapsed in 2018.

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