Alexander Ermilov
FinSight Ventures
Published in
5 min readMar 26, 2024

--

FinSight Ventures leads Series A primary round of Uzum — the first unicorn and super app of Uzbekistan

FinSight Ventures is pleased to announce the closing of the primary round of Uzum Holding — leading “super app” of Uzbekistan. After raising more than $100m in equity and debt, Uzum became the first national unicorn in Uzbekistan (a country with 37m population).

Alexey Garyunov, general partner at FinSight Ventures:

“After meeting with Djasur Djumaev and other Uzum team members back in July 2023 we were impressed by the pace of innovation, performance and synergies achieved by the Uzum team. Even though Uzum is the first Finsight Ventures investment in the region, we have built a solid investment thesis in Uzum and are confident that investment in Uzum gives us exposure to fintech and e-commerce markets in Uzbekistan. Disrupting banking and retail industries in Uzbekistan, Uzum is targeting more than $30b of TAM in one of the most growing economies (projected to grow by more than 7% annually in the following years) in the CEMEA region. Packed with top class professionals from one of the best tech companies in the world (such as Avito, Aliexpress Russia, Yandex) and led by serial entrepreneur Djasur Djumaev we think Uzum is prone to success.”

Konstantin Deykalo, head of growth investments FinSight Ventures:

“We are big believers in the super app strategy that we have been investing in globally (among our portfolio companies such super apps as Rappi in LATAM, Klarna in Europe/US, Toss in South Korea). We think super app strategy creates flywheel and barriers to entry that drive efficient unit economics and strong retention metrics that cannot be matched by niche market players. Blueprint laid out by Kaspi.kz in neighbouring Kazakhstan and tailored to local peculiarities provides a clear path to success for Uzum. Kaspi has already proved high interest from the international investors in the region by going public on LSE in 2020 with valuation of $6.5b (raised more than $800m) and subsequently on Nasdaq in early Jan 2024 raising more than $1b at $17.5b valuation. We strongly believe that Uzbekistan will be the next market in central Asia that will attract global investors and Uzum will lead the digital transformation of the Uzbekistan Economy.”

FinSight Ventures has led Uzum Series A, other investors in the round include Axevil Investment Platform, Lime Trading, Xanara Investment Management, existing shareholders and top managers of Uzum have also joined the round.

Why we invest in Uzbekistan:

Uzbekistan is a uniquely positioned market in Central Asia, combining the youngest population in CEMEA region (60% of citizens are below 30 years old), high internet penetration and low (compared to neighbouring Kazakhstan) adoption of fintech and e-commerce services, forming ideal conditions for substantial growth of the digital economy in the country. According to KPMG, Uzbekistan is one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the world, projected to expand by 600% by the end of 2027.

Uzbekistan’s economy has transformed significantly since 2016 with GDP (in USD) growing steadily at rates above 6% annually and average household income (in USD) growing at 9% per year since 2018, while average devaluation rate of Uzbekistan Som to USD was stable at 8% annually over the last five years. Uzbekistan’s growth is driven by a government program which aims to significantly accelerate the growth of the private sector through privatisation of major economic industries and ensuring favourable conditions for attracting foreign capital. Since 2016 Uzbekistan has implemented hundreds of economic reforms that underpin the growth of the national economy.

Uzbekistan is projected to continue growing at an accelerated pace, with the government targeting to double GDP up to $160B by 2030 while supporting the expansion of local companies and development of the first national unicorn. In addition, more and more international players, for example, Wildberries, TBC Bank and OTP Bank, are entering the Uzbekistan market, driving continued expansion of Uzbekistan’s digital economy and attracting interest from global investors.

Uzbekistan is one the unique regions, where, in contrast to legacy western markets, consumers moved from offline directly to mobile bypassing the web browser stage of development which makes it ideal for the development of a super app that includes banking, fintech, e-commerce, delivery and other services in one unified app for consumers and merchants.

Investing in Uzum:

Uzum is building the super app of Uzbekistan which aims to fulfil as much as possible day to day needs of merchants and households in order to create a closed-loop ecosystem of digital services with strong synergies between the business lines that drive upsale and retention.

Uzum already built the largest digital ecosystem in Uzbekistan, which includes a marketplace, an express delivery service, traditional and digital banks, a BNPL service, an automotive classified and SME fintech app (Uzum Business). While most of the competitors focused on BNPL product which didn’t require long-term capital investment, Uzum has heavily invested into the local fulfilment and built one of the biggest warehouses in the country, hundreds of pickup points and efficient logistics infrastructure that improved delivery time and fulfilment rate by many times compared to other players on the market. Uzum has created an e-commerce experience that never existed in Uzbekistan before (orders are being delivered in 24 hours nationally with almost 100% fulfilment rate). Currently e-commerce marketplace is in most cases the first Uzum product that new users try, essentially it’s a key high frequency product that allows Uzum to efficiently acquire new customers nationally. Even if competition heats up in the region with other international players entering the market and building warehouses, Uzum would have an advantage of operating for more than 3 years and building strong retention drivers through synergies between the different business lines.

Uzum ecosystem builds strong network effects on both consumer and merchant sides. By using more Uzum ecosystem services consumers expand their BNPL limit, earn loyalty points and receive personalised discounted offers while conveniently transacting and purchasing goods digitally. For using more ecosystem services merchants receive faster payouts and higher working capital loan limits. Uzum is creating a flywheel that would ensure best in class retention metrics and lower than competitors acquisition costs. Uzum strives to become the most important financial and retail service for both consumers and merchants in order to win the battle for the first screen and enjoy best in class NPL (non-performing loan) rates as both consumers and merchants would default anywhere else but not Uzum as they do not want to lose access to the ecosystem.

In 2023 Uzum has demonstrated spectacular results: ecosystem reached 10 million monthly average users and generated nearly $100M in net profit, while Uzum Market became the biggest marketplace in the country with turnover of around $150M. In 2024 Uzum is looking to continue expansion of the ecosystem and plans to launch new e-commerce logistics complex in Uzbekistan, which will drive growth of e-commerce turnover by more than 150%.

We are excited to lead the new round of Uzum, as they continue to disrupt the retail and banking markets of Uzbekistan by creating the first super app for consumers and merchants in the country, becoming one of the major drivers of digitalization of Uzbekistan’s economy.

(initially published on finsightvc.com, 26.03.2024)

--

--