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Dubai-Based Lunchbox Startup Citron Eyes Up Asia And Europe Markets As It Raises Pre-Series A Investment From Arzan Venture Capital The funding is a "sizeable seven-figure dollar" investment, and will be used to further growth and product development.

By Pamella de Leon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Citron, a Dubai-based startup offering distinctive mealtime products to children and families, has successfully received pre-Series A funding from Arzan Venture Capital. A boost to female-founded businesses and direct-to-consumer business models, the funding is a "sizeable seven-figure dollar" investment, according to its release, and will be used to further growth and product development.

Launched by Sara Chemmaa in 2017, Citron sought to fill a need in the market for stylish and leakproof lunchboxes. Initially starting with one single product, the homegrown startup has sold more than 100,000 items, with its release stating that the company has experienced a 200% year-on-year growth.

The brand has also expanded its offering to include over 90 products, consisting of a sustainable range, a bamboo range, and a line specifically designed for teenagers. With its significant growth, it's only fair that it had become an appealing investment opportunity for Kuwait-based Arzan Venture Capital.

Sara Chemmaa, founder and CEO, Citron

"As a non-tech company, the investment is even more meaningful, as this sector is currently out of favor by investors," says Chemma, founder and CEO, Citron. "As a female-owned and-run business, we are thrilled to be paving the way, and we are thankful to Arzan VC for backing strong female founders who are underrepresented and overlooked, despite demonstrating superior returns."

The funding comes at an opportune time for the local brand as it has also recently secured a distributor agreement with MAPYR Dubai. With the new funds, Chemmaa states that it will be used to support growth outside of the GCC. "We are launching operations in China, where we plan to have our own sales office for Asia," she says. "We will also be launching into Europe very soon." Besides new territories, the company is also investing on direct-to-consumer activities and launching new products.

As an enterprise with newly infused capital, Chemma's plan to balance attracting new customers and keeping sales up during an ongoing pandemic is to keep moving forward. "We focus on growth," she says. "We are expanding outside of the region and opening new markets. We just signed new distributors for the GCC to maximize our presence here, and we are in talks with large distributors in China, Japan and other Asian markets."

She continues, "Top line growth target is our key priority as we are a cash flow positive business- so in everything we do, we make sure that we remain that way. We plan and budget our costs, and make sure we don't go above unless it is justified by a good, expected ROI."

Laith Zraikat, Partner at Arzan Venture Capital

And its latest investor is keen on the startup's plans too, with Laith Zraikat, Partner at Arzan Venture Capital, commenting, "Citron is catering to a huge market and the founder's plan to diversify her product lines and sell directly to consumers made us realize Citron's potential to grow and become a global company. We are looking forward to being part of Citron's journey and assisting them in achieving their goals."


Sara Chemmaa, founder and CEO, Citron

What's your advice to female entrepreneurs attempting to raise funding for their own enterprises?

"Believe in you and your story. Investors choose to invest in you at an early stage, so you have to believe, and make them believe. Next, build a sustainable business that can be scaled, and investors will naturally be interested. And finally, female founders tend to have companies with higher growth rates and better success rates- women should always remember this."

Related: Could Investing In Women Be The Next Bitcoin Opportunity? Making The Case For Gender Lens Investing

Pamella de Leon

Startup Section Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Pamella de Leon is the Startup Section Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is keen on the MENA region’s entrepreneurship potential, with a specific interest to support enterprises and individuals creating an impact.

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