Shoprite unites retail royalty to fund tech-first startups

  • Shoprite Group, together with some of the largest grocery store chains in the world, is launching a venture capital fund for the most innovative startups in the retail space.
  • Together, the five corporations will invest $125 million into tech-first startups and scale-ups for the next five years.
  • The companies are hoping the startups that will receive funding can answer pressing questions for the retail industry, including sustainability and digital transformation.

South African retail giant the Shoprite Group is spearheading the creation of a new venture capital fund with some of the world’s largest grocery chains, including Tesco, Ahold Delhaize, Woolworths Group (the Australian one), and Empire Company.

Together with Shoprite, the companies represent several international markets including the US, Europe, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and across Africa. Called the W23 Global VC fund, the companies will be looking to invest $125 million in up-and-coming and innovative retail startups over the next five years.

Above all, the fund will prioritise technology-first startups and scale-ups, with customer experience and the digital transformation of the grocery value chain as the main focus of the fund.

“Each retailer is an equal funder and partner in W23 Global, while their CEOs will sit on the investment committee,” Shoprite Group explains in a press statement.

In terms of how the fund will benefit customers of the companies across the globe, Shoprite says that funded startups will drive more connected and personalised shopping experiences across outlets and online.

Stakeholders will benefit from more efficient grocery value chains, and the big question of sustainability will be addressed, with solutions discovered for challenges in emissions and waste reduction, packaging innovation, product traceability and transparency, healthy choices and biodiversity.

“In a country with one of the highest levels of inequality in the world, as measured by the Gini coefficient, we at the Shoprite Group have to find more affordable solutions for our customers to sustain their livelihoods, every day,” says Shoprite CEO Pieter Engelbrecht.

“This is the driving force behind our need to innovate faster than most retailers and is why we entered this venture with our esteemed global counterparts,” he adds.

“We are excited to be collaborating with four other leading grocery retailers in this new investment fund. We are passionate about seeking out the best retail innovations and finding ways to make everything we do sustainable, and this partnership allows us to do that on a truly global scale,” enthuses Ken Murphy, CEO of Tesco.

According to the chief investment officer and boss of the W23 Global fund, Ingrid Maes, the companies are hoping the investment will help smaller companies scale up faster

“With five of the world’s leading grocery CEOs sitting on our investment committee and access to our broader ecosystem, our founders can test and develop their ideas quickly based on an accelerated understanding of retailers’ needs,” she says.


About Author


Related News