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    HomeEcosystem NewsVenture Capital & Funding SourcesShoprite Group Launches W23 Global, a $125M Corporate Venture Fund Targeting Early-Stage...

    Shoprite Group Launches W23 Global, a $125M Corporate Venture Fund Targeting Early-Stage RetailTech

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    Five of the world’s foremost grocery retailers have joined forces to inaugurate a groundbreaking collaborative venture capital fund known as W23 Global. Ahold Delhaize (US, Europe, Indonesia), Tesco (UK, ROI, Europe), Woolworths Group (Australia, New Zealand), Empire Company Limited/Sobeys Inc. (Canada), and Shoprite Group (Africa) have pooled resources to establish this innovative fund aimed at fostering technological innovation and sustainability within the grocery retail sector.

    With a collective investment commitment of US$125 million over a span of five years, W23 Global aims to identify and support the most innovative startups and scale-ups globally. The fund will specifically target enterprises capable of revolutionizing grocery retail and addressing sustainability challenges prevalent within the sector.

    Maes further elaborated on the fund’s objectives, highlighting its focus on providing unparalleled access to transformative innovation in grocery retail and sustainability on a global scale. She noted the fund’s commitment to identifying common challenges within the sector and supporting entrepreneurs poised to develop innovative solutions.

    Reasons for the New Fund

    The establishment of W23 Global underscores the shared recognition among industry leaders of the imperative to adapt to evolving consumer demands and address pressing sustainability challenges. With the rise of e-commerce, shifting consumer preferences, and growing environmental concerns, traditional grocery retailers are facing unprecedented challenges that demand innovative solutions.

    By pooling their resources and expertise, these global grocery giants aim to harness the power of technology and entrepreneurship to revolutionize the grocery retail landscape. W23 Global represents a strategic initiative to stay ahead of the curve, capitalize on emerging opportunities, and foster sustainable growth in an increasingly competitive market.

    Commenting on the partnership Pieter Engelbrecht, CEO of Shoprite Group, underscores the critical role of innovation in addressing unique trading circumstances in South Africa. He emphasizes the need for accessible solutions that empower customers to navigate economic uncertainties, underscoring the significance of W23 Global’s mission.

    Frans Muller, CEO of Ahold Delhaize, echoes Engelbrecht’s sentiments, emphasizing the transformative potential of collaboration with industry leaders to drive retail innovation and sustainability on a global scale.

    Ken Murphy, CEO of Tesco, highlights the collective impact of the partnership, noting its capacity to identify and leverage cutting-edge retail innovations worldwide, while advancing sustainable business practices.

    Brad Banducci, CEO of Woolworths Group, reaffirms the company’s unwavering commitment to innovation and sustainability, emphasizing the pivotal role of startups and scale-ups in driving positive change within the industry.

    Michael Medline, President & CEO of Empire Company Limited, emphasizes the importance of collaboration in driving innovation that not only benefits customers but also addresses critical industry challenges.

    Focus and Description of the Fund

    W23 Global’s primary focus is to identify and invest in the most innovative startups and scale-ups with the potential to transform the grocery retail sector. Led by CEO and Chief Investment Officer (CIO) Ingrid Maes, a seasoned veteran with over 25 years of experience in FMCG and grocery retail innovation, the fund will seek out entrepreneurs who are developing cutting-edge solutions to industry challenges.

    The fund’s investment strategy encompasses a wide range of areas, including but not limited to:

    1. Enhancing Customer Experiences: W23 Global aims to support startups and scale-ups that leverage technology to deliver faster, more personalized, and connected experiences for consumers both in-store and online.
    2. Optimizing Supply Chains: By investing in innovative technologies and solutions, W23 Global seeks to create more efficient grocery value chains that benefit all stakeholders, from producers to retailers to consumers.
    3. Addressing Sustainability Challenges: Recognizing the urgent need to mitigate the environmental impact of the grocery retail sector, W23 Global will prioritize investments in startups and scale-ups focused on reducing emissions, minimizing waste, innovating packaging, promoting product traceability and transparency, encouraging healthy choices, and preserving biodiversity.

    The fund’s collaborative model ensures that each partner organization plays an equal role as a funder and partner, with their respective CEOs sitting on the investment committee. This inclusive approach allows for a diverse range of perspectives and expertise to be brought to the table, fostering comprehensive solutions to industry challenges.

    Through strategic investments and partnerships, W23 Global aims to accelerate innovation, drive positive change, and ultimately shape the future of grocery retailing on a global scale. As consumer expectations continue to evolve and sustainability becomes increasingly paramount, this pioneering venture fund is poised to lead the industry towards a more resilient and sustainable future.

    Charles Rapulu Udoh is a Lagos-based lawyer, who has several years of experience working in Africa’s burgeoning tech startup industry. He has closed multi-million dollar deals bordering on venture capital, private equity, intellectual property (trademark, patent or design, etc.), mergers and acquisitions, in countries such as in the Delaware, New York, UK, Singapore, British Virgin Islands, South Africa, Nigeria etc. He’s also a corporate governance and cross-border data privacy and tax expert. As an award-winning writer and researcher, he is passionate about telling the African startup story, and is one of the continent’s pioneers in this regard.

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