Chaldal Raises a $10M Series C, Eyes to Become the Online Grocery Leader in Bangladesh Through Dark Stores

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September 15, 2021

Chaldal, a Dhaka-based grocery delivery platform, has raised $10 million in a Series C funding round. The round was led by Taavet Hinrikus (co-founder of Wise), Sten Tamkivi (CPO of Topia), and Xploration Capital, with the participation from Mir Group.

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries with over 163 million people – and only 30 million of them live in cities. Compared to its South Asian counterparts, the retail sector in Bangladesh is undeveloped and fragmented. The local market for goods and groceries still relies mostly on very small shops with limited selection while supermarkets are exceedingly rare. That is exacerbated by the fact Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is one of the densest cities in the world, which leads to higher real estate prices and even smaller stores. At the same time, the GDP per capita of Bangladesh is $2,227, higher than that of India, and it’s growing 7% per year making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Bangladesh has turned into a middle-income country and is on track to graduate from the UN’s Least Developed Countries (LDC) list in 2026. By 2030, it is expected to be the 24th largest economy in the world. 

Chaldal delivers groceries on-demand through a network of warehouses enabled by their technology platform. Their customers can select from over 8,500 different products and have them delivered within an hour – in fact, most of the customers make the order right before they’re planning to cook a meal. Thanks to that approach, Chaldal is currently the second-largest grocery player and the largest e-grocery company in Bangladesh. In the past 12 months, Chaldal generated $40M in revenue and performed 2.5 million orders, growing approximately 120 % YoY. The company currently has 27 warehouses located in 4 cities and plans to expand in 15 others. 

”Before Chaldal our customers had limited access to fresh groceries and didn’t have an opportunity to buy them from a single place – and definitely not online”, says Waseem Alim, CEO of Chaldal. “Having our own inventory combined with our technology platform allowed us to have real-time availability and deliver orders in the shortest amount of time possible“.

Chaldal was founded in 2014 by Waseem Alim, Tejas Viswanath, and Zia Ashraf. It pioneered the dark stores concept that’s only now gaining traction in the US and Europe. The company will use this funding round to expand across Bangladesh and develop its other product offerings. That includes expanding the coverage for its on-demand delivery service GoGo Bangla Limited, which allows businesses to deliver orders to their clients, across the country, as well as growing Chaldal Vegetable Network, which connects farmers with retailers directly to provide fair prices and fresh produce to consumers. In addition, the company is looking to launch a direct-to-consumer pharmacy. Previously, Chaldal has received investment from Y Combinator, IDLC Finance Limited (one of the largest listed financial organisations in Bangladesh), IFC (a member of the World Bank Group), Startup Bangladesh (VC fund launched by the Government of Bangladesh where Chaldal became the first investment).

“Traditionally, the retail sector in Bangladesh has been dominated by mudir dokan, small family shops with organized retail representing less than 2% of all retail sales”, said Igor Kim, Managing Partner at Xploration Capital. “We believe that there’s a unique opportunity for digital players in Bangladesh. Online retail in Bangladesh may completely leapfrog traditional supermarkets and become the dominant model, just like many Southeast Asian countries skipped PCs for mobile”.

Chaldal has partnered with global organizations such as WFP, UNICEF, as well as the Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM), and the Ministry of Commerce Government in Bangladesh. In partnership with WFP and UNICEF, Chaldal is providing food and other necessities to the refugees at the Rohingya Camps in Cox’s Bazar. During the lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19, the company partnered with the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) to sell basic products at a discount to ensure that prices didn’t spiral upwards. 

“Chaldal is a trusted household name and has established itself as one of the leading e-commerce companies in the country. They have been a huge help to urban residents during the pandemic with their relentless efforts to deliver essentials to residents’ doorsteps”, said Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister, ICT Division, Bangladesh. “My best wishes to Chaldal on its journey – initiatives like these are essential for achieving a Digital Bangladesh under the visionary leadership of Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy”.

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