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How Egypt's MNT-Halan Went From Its Ride-Hailing Roots To Becoming A Payments Super App Unicorn In 2023 MNT-Halan offers loans, buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) options, e-commerce, and more through its payment-processing software Halan Neuron, as well as its digital cards and wallets.

By Ashok Raman

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MNT-Halan co-founders Mounir Nakhla and Ahmed Mohsen

MNT-Halan made headlines in February of last year, when it was crowned Africa's first unicorn of 2023. MNT-Halan describes itself today as Egypt's largest non-bank lender to the unbanked, but it may surprise you to learn that it originally debuted as a ride-hailing platform called Halan Inc.

Founded in 2017 by Mounir Nakhla and Ahmed Mohsen, MNT-Halan launched as a ride-hailing platform centered in Zamalek, Giza- an affluent and diplomatic neighbourhood of Cairo. The founders got their start to build the ride-hailing platform following a US$2.5 million seed round raised between November 2017 and March 2018. Subsequent rounds followed, starting with Halan's Series A, which closed at $4.4 million at the back end of 2018. An additional $15 million Series B funding round was disclosed in 2020. A merger came onto the table in the second half of 2021 after a share swap with Dutch lender MNT Investments BV, which seemed to come along with $120 million in funds.

Thus, Halan Inc. officially became MNT-Halan, and its transition and evolution to become a digital payment and fintech player began with haste. The company expanded rapidly, encompassing B2C and B2B on-demand logistics solutions in its first year after the merger, before venturing into food delivery and becoming a super app within two years. It expanded aggressively in part by borrowing and taking on $150 million in debt financing in June 2022. By the end of the same year, the firm had processed transactions worth $1.8 billion with a monthly throughput that had soared over 20 times in the last five years, surpassing $100 million.

Related: 10 Graphs You Need To See To Understand Egypt's Startup Ecosystem

Image courtesy Lucidity Insights.

Today, MNT-Halan offers loans, buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) options, e-commerce, and more through its payment-processing software Halan Neuron, as well as its digital cards and wallets. In fact, MNT-Halan's market share in SME lending was 9% in 2018, which has risen to 25% in 2022. Number of borrowers grew more than 3x from 750,000 in 2021 to 2.5 million in 2022.

Fast-forward to February 2023 when MNT-Halan raised $260M in equity financing partly provided by Abu Dhabi–based Chimera Investments, and an additional $140M through two securitized bond issuances for a total of $400 million at a $1 billion valuation to reach the coveted unicorn status. Today, MNT-Halan boasts 1.5 million monthly active users, six million customers, four million financial clients, and 2.5 million borrowers.

But as impressive as the company's timeline has been, perhaps the most potent of narratives lie in a future where MNT-Halan's technology transcends borders. CEO Nakhla envisions a future where financial services are accessible to all- he had alluded to this direction of the company upon its rebranding in 2021, when he said, "MNT-Halan will be the leading player digitizing the unbanked, and bringing financial services to millions of underserved customers in the region."

Today, MNT-Halan values empowering underserved sectors, alleviating disparities, amplifying female economic participation, and supporting young people– all of which is a crucial aspect in a nation where 70% of the population is financially underserved.

For more insights on Egypt's entrepreneurial ecosystem, check out the report, Investing in Egypt's Startup Ecosystem, here.

This article was originally published on Lucidity Insights, a partner of Entrepreneur Middle East in developing special reports on the Middle East and Africa's tech and entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Related: The Impact Of Egypt's Currency Devaluation On Its Local Startups

Ashok Raman is a storyteller who uses numbers as his medium. He loves to crunch data, analyze it, and investigate deeper questions until the stories begin to emerge on their own. Ashok comes from a finance and consulting background, having worked in the strategy consulting and private equity fields across the Middle East and Emerging Asia for over 15 years, prior to becoming a business writer. When it comes to tech stories, Ashok has a penchant for startups in the fintech, B2B software-as-a-service, artificial intelligence, and machine learning spaces. He loves writing about venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, and the general investor landscape of startup ecosystems. Ashok holds a bachelor’s of science in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as a diploma in finance.

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