The technology company Little is eyeing billions from share sales

Technology

The technology company Little is eyeing billions from share sales


Kamal Buddhabhatti

Little CEO Kamal Budhabhatti. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Technology company Little plans to sell up to 25 percent of its holdings in three years to raise capital and scale up expansion in a move that could raise over Sh2 billion from new investors.

Little CEO and founder of Craft Silicon Kamal Budhabhatti said the funds would help increase their market share in the retail segment and retain top tech talent as they grow across the region.

This will see investors hold a stake in the private firm worth Sh9.52 billion ($80 million) to Sh11.9 billion ($100 million), according to Budhabhatti.

He did not say how much the company plans to raise, but the amount is likely to be over Sh2 billion based on the company’s valuation range.

The sale will see investors join Little, with Craft Silicon holding a stake of just under 15 percent, while other shareholders include some key employees.

“In three years, you might see some investment in both Craft Sil-icon and Little. We might get into Little first, then we’ll take it to Craft. That means if someone wants to invest, we’ll bring them into first Little and hopefully to Craft,” Budhabhatti said.

“For the first few years, you don’t want to go more than 20 to 25 percent.”

Sir. Budhabhatti said the company would look at available investor funds, including Silicon Valley in the US, African-based funds, funds from India, China and the Middle East.

“There are too many options… We just want to be careful who we bring on board because we don’t want to bring someone just for the money. Yes, we are looking for money, but money is not the only thing,” said Buddhabhatti.

“We’re looking for a partner that can really help us scale up to the right size.” Launched in 2016, the small platform offers taxi-hailing services, developed by Craft Silicon in collaboration with Safaricom.

However, the telecommunications company has no stake in the company. The firm started in the ride-hailing sector as Little Cab, but morphed into the Little super app and added other services such as selling movie tickets, deliveries and paying utility bills, including pay TV, water and electricity cities in Kenya.

It has also been dominant in the business segment through services such as insurance and investment.

It has also entered into payroll management and payroll advances in a partnership that will bring private firms and banks to provide short-term loans. However, Little has struggled to raise market share in the retail segment in the price-competitive market with competing global companies – Uber and Bolt.

The funds to be raised are expected to increase this market share without reducing their prices.

Little expanded to Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Ethiopia and recently launched in West African countries – Ghana and Senegal.

The expansion follows an investment of $8 million (Sh953 million) including $5 million (Sh595 million) received from Craft Silicon and financiers to expand into Ethiopia, which he said has all been paid.

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