- Egypt-based VC firm Acasia Ventures has led a pre-Seed investment round in Senegal-based SaaS startup Lengo AI, co-led by Ventures Platform and joined by P1 Ventures, Launch Africa, Voltron Capital and a number of other VCs and angel investors.
- Founded in 2022 by Max Smith, Roger Xavier Macia and Ismaila Seck, Lengo AI is a data-driven operating system for informal retail in Africa.
- The investment will be used to expand Lengo AI’s tech and sales teams, further develop the AI portion of the product, and enter new African markets.
Early-stage venture capital firm Acasia Ventures has led a pre-seed investment round in Dakar-based AI-driven FMCG intelligence platform Lengo AI. The round was co-led by Ventures Platform and joined by P1 Ventures, Launch Africa, Voltron Capital and a number of other VCs and angel investors.
Launched in 2022 under the mantra of “Stop guessing Africa”, Lengo AI is the first data-driven operating system for informal retail in Africa. It aims to provide intelligence and highly actionable insights to FMCG brands coming from the thousands of corner shops that make up 90 per cent of purchases across the continent. The software-as-a-service platform uses a hybrid approach of Lengo Eagles (field agents) and AI to connect retailers and FMCG companies with real-time performance data on the sales of products.
By joining the Lengo Club, shopkeepers, who are at the heart of the social and economic fabric of African countries, can increase their revenues by benefiting from insights on customer behaviours, alerts on new products and a loyalty point system. On the corporate end, it helps local companies in the FMCG sector optimise their resources and provides purchasing behaviour data to international companies aiming to invest in Africa.
The investment will be used to expand Lengo AI’s tech and sales teams, further develop the AI portion of the product, and enter new African markets. The founding team is made up of Max Smith (CEO), who has an extensive background in sales and market research across Africa, Roger Xavier Macia (CCO, former CCO at Jumia in Senegal), and Ismaila Seck (CTO), who is a veteran of Senegal’s AI community with a PhD in machine and deep learning.
“Lengo AI's platform already provides near real-time market monitoring from a ground-level perspective for over 2,000 products. Now we are working on leveraging AI to connect at scale with the last node of the retail network: the corner shops,” Smith explains. “We're building a very low friction technology with retailers and actively recruiting for the best AI and Software Engineers! Thanks to the support from Acasia Ventures, we hope to gain expertise in Nigeria and Egypt, and accordingly, make the right connections in both countries to expand our product for shopkeepers and work with brands to stop guessing Africa.”
The company was the first to map out corner shops selling FMCG products in Dakar and is in the process of mapping out an additional six cities. Today, Lengo AI accounted for and mapped out over 30,000 corner shops.
“When I met Max almost a year ago in Dakar, I was immediately excited by what he was building. In the following months, once my team and I got to dig deeper into the market, look under the hood of the product and meet Xavier and Ismaila, it was clear that we were working with a very special team working on a unique solution in one of the largest sectors in Africa,” said Aly El Shalakany, Managing Partner of Acasia Ventures. “We worked with Lengo to bring in some of the very top VCs operating on the continent so that we could work collaboratively to execute the ambitious business plan. We are delighted to be joining the board to help the team further develop the strategy and open new and exciting markets for the company.”