Acasia Ventures, a prominent early-stage venture capital firm, has taken the lead in a pre-seed investment round for Lengo AI, an AI-powered Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) intelligence platform based in Dakar, Senegal. This significant investment round also saw participation from notable players in the venture capital space, including Ventures Platform, P1 Ventures, Launch Africa, Voltron Capital, and several angel investors. Launched in 2022, Lengo AI has quickly made waves in the African retail landscape with its groundbreaking approach to gathering and leveraging data from informal retailers.
Empowering African Retail with Data-Driven Insights
Lengo AI, founded under the mantra of “Stop guessing Africa,” is a pioneering data-driven operating system designed to serve informal retail businesses across Africa. With an emphasis on providing intelligence and actionable insights, Lengo AI targets the thousands of corner shops that account for a staggering 90% of purchases on the continent. The platform operates as a software-as-a-service solution, harnessing the synergy of Lengo Eagles (field agents) and cutting-edge AI technology to bridge the gap between retailers and FMCG companies by offering real-time performance data on product sales.
The Lengo Club: Boosting Shopkeeper Revenues and Corporate Efficiency
At the core of Lengo AI’s mission is the “Lengo Club,” an initiative aimed at empowering shopkeepers, who are central to the social and economic fabric of African countries. Shopkeepers can increase their revenue by tapping into the platform’s insights on customer behavior, alerts on new products, and a loyalty point system. On the corporate front, Lengo AI aids local FMCG companies in optimizing their resources and provides valuable purchasing behavior data to international firms looking to invest in Africa.
Investment to Drive Expansion and Innovation
The recent investment secured by Lengo AI will be instrumental in expanding its tech and sales teams, further enhancing the AI component of its product, and entering new African markets. The founding team comprises Max Smith (CEO), Roger Xavier Macia (CCO, former CCO at Jumia in Senegal), and Ismaila Seck (CTO), a veteran of Senegal’s AI community with a PhD in machine and deep learning. Max Smith elaborates on their vision, stating, “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.”
Mapping the Retail Landscape
Lengo AI’s commitment to data-driven insights is reflected in its comprehensive mapping efforts. The company was the first to map out corner shops selling FMCG products in Dakar, and it is currently in the process of mapping out an additional six cities. As of now, Lengo AI has accounted for and mapped out over 30,000 corner shops across these locations.
A Shared Vision for the Future
Aly El Shalakany, Managing Partner of Acasia Ventures, expresses his excitement about the partnership, stating, “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.”
Lengo AI’s recent pre-seed investment and its innovative approach to connecting retailers and FMCG companies with real-time data have the potential to disrupt and optimize the African FMCG market. By empowering shopkeepers and enhancing corporate efficiency, Lengo AI could become a valuable asset for both local and international players in the sector, ushering in a new era of data-driven decision-making in African retail.