Apr 02, 2024 481

The first "Unicorn" of Uzbekistan was Uzum e-commerce startup!


"Uzum, an e-commerce startup that offers online shopping, fintech, and food delivery to millions of customers in Uzbekistan, raised $114 million in funding and became Uzbekistan's first unicorn at a $1.16 billion valuation. For those who don't know, let's note that the term Unicorn refers to startups whose value has exceeded 1 billion."

In Uzbekistan, the e-commerce startup Uzum, which offers online shopping, fintech, and food delivery services to millions of customers, has raised $114 million in funding, making it the country's first unicorn with a valuation of $1.16 billion. For those unfamiliar, the term "unicorn" refers to startups valued at $1 billion or more.son.

Uzbekistan's Unicorn: Uzum With over 35 million people, of which roughly 60% are under 30 years old, Uzbekistan provides a fertile ground for new startups. The country boasts a literacy rate of nearly 100%, internet penetration at around 76%, and smartphone penetration exceeding 75%. As of 2020, there were approximately 1,200 startups in the Central Asian country, with fintech startups leading the market at 30% and e-commerce startups following closely at 27%, according to the Asian Development Bank.

However, despite these promising statistics, e-commerce services have faced incredible challenges in capturing a significant share of Uzbekistan's retail market, accounting for only 2.2% by December 2022, according to a report by KPMG. Djasur Djumaev, co-founder and CEO of Uzum, explains that initially, Uzbeks conducted online shopping through social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Telegram. Customers would connect with sellers in groups on social platforms that had limited stock-keeping units (SKUs) and no physical or technical infrastructure for communication.

Djumaev notes, "We were surprised to see high smartphone penetration and existing telecommunication infrastructure, but the absence of e-commerce and relevant fintech services." Recognizing the potential for a company like Amazon to operate in Uzbekistan similarly to other countries, Djumaev seized the opportunity. Since its launch in October 2022, the platform now boasts over 8 million monthly active users and more than 600,000 SKUs offered by over 9,000 sellers, making it the largest online marketplace in the country. According to Nikolay Seleznev, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Uzum, the largest street market in the country offers approximately 70,000 SKUs daily for comparison.