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SAUDI ARABIA - Finance

Abdulmajeed Alsukhan

Co-founder & CEO, Tamara

Bio

Abdulmajeed Alsukhan is the CEO & Co-Founder of Tamara. Before launching Tamara, he co-founded Habli in 2017, a Saudi-based logistics provider for grocery delivery, which was acquired in the same year by Nana. Alsukhan has a BA in financial economics from California State University and an MA in economy policy from Boston University.

"I went to the US for my studies, and when I returned, I established my first start-up in 2016 in the delivery space."
As MENA’s leading buy-now-pay-later service provider, Tamara’s success lies in its ability to address the growing demand for more inclusive and flexible payment methods in the Kingdom.
What was the inspiration and process behind creating Tamara?

I went to the US for my studies, and when I returned, I established my first start-up in 2016 in the delivery space. While looking into my second start-up, I realized that the neighborhood corner store was competing against us in terms of proximity. It also has a ledger, and the cashier decides which customer to extend credit to. Certain customers can shop and pay at the end of the month. That was a competitive advantage that I was analyzing. The reason the mom-and-pop store can do it is because it has data that chain stores do not have. Small stores know their customers; they know where they live, the name of their children, and the car they drive. They have data that they do not analyze but use in a primitive way to decide whether the customer is a low- or high-fraud risk and extend a credit line based on that. Once I realized that, I looked into digitalizing that process because this is larger than grocery stores. We could bring this process to any online store if we had data, because data allows us to do what small stores are doing. By early 2020, it was clear to me that this was a great market and opportunity. We started building the team in early 2020 and wrote our first line of code. We subsequently launched in September 2020, and since then, we have been growing tremendously. We are seeing growth of about 40-45% month-on-month. We closed the biggest Series A funding in the region by far, which has only helped us become more aggressive in our approach to the market. We aim to become not just a regional player but a global player.

Tamara has raised the second-highest funding ever in Saudi’s fintech space. How do you plan to invest it?

We are building a global team; we have global ambitions and are building up our team accordingly. This funding will help us continue to build an exceptional team with a global reach. It will also help us invest in our partnerships further. As a business, we sign a deal with partners and work with them closely to increase their sales. This funding will, therefore, help us invest more in such relationships. It will help us expand in terms of operational reach. We are based in Saudi, but we have also launched in the UAE as well as Kuwait and plan to grow to other GCC markets soon.

What is your evaluation of the growth in the fintech space, and how is the space growing and evolving in the next few years?

The financial industry has always embraced fintech, with Visa and Mastercard having an established presence for many years, but central banks have generally been wary of new players. Recently, central banks have embraced change and created sandbox environments for new players to test their solutions under a controlled environment that achieves multiple objectives at the same time including protecting the financial system while also validating the new technology. Saudi Arabia’s Central Bank was one of the early CBs in the region to create the sandbox program and we are one of many other fintechs that has benefited from such programs.

What are your expansion plans for the brand and operations overseas?

Berlin and Ho Chi Minh are development centers. However, we are focusing on the GCC for the time being. We are not rushing into things. Saudi Arabia is the biggest market in the GCC, and the GCC is a unique situation, because there are many similarities between the countries and significant legal integration. There is an ability to work in these countries simultaneously as if you were in your home country. We see an advantage in this market because the countries share similar demographics and cultural backgrounds. It makes sense for us to be in every country here. 6

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