Shoprite Joins $125M Startup Investment Trend Every 5 Years

Shoprite Holdings, Africa’s largest retailer and partially controlled by South African billionaire Christo Wiese, has pledged $125 million over five years to drive innovation and sustainability in the global grocery retail sector. This effort, led by the newly created company W23 Global, aims to find and invest in pioneering start-ups and scale-ups with the potential to transform the industry landscape.

W23 Global is a strategic cooperation involving five major grocery sector players: Shoprite Holdings, Ahold Delhaize, Tesco, Woolworths Group, and Sobeys Inc. With active operations spanning continents from Africa to North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, these retail powerhouses hope to use their combined knowledge and resources to achieve positive change.

W23 Global is led by Ingrid Maes, a seasoned professional with over 25 years of experience in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and grocery retail innovation. Maes, as CEO and chief investment officer, adds essential experience and leadership to the effort, having previously supervised Woolworths Group’s innovation fund, W23 Australia.

Speaking about W23 Global’s disruptive potential, Maes stressed its role in delivering unmatched access to innovation and sustainability solutions suited to the grocery industry’s unique concerns. Each retailer will serve as an equal financier and partner in W23 Global, and their CEOs will participate on the investment committee to ensure strategic alignment and a common goal.

Shoprite Holdings, with over 2,900 stores across Africa, is a key partner in this collaboration. South African billionaire Christo Wiese owns an 11.63 percent stake in the retailer. Pieter Engelbrecht, CEO of Shoprite Group, underlined the necessity of cheap solutions in meeting the demands of customers in South Africa, a country known for high levels of inequality.

The combined efforts of W23 Global highlight a proactive approach by top retailers to drive innovation and sustainability in the grocery industry. By investing in transformative solutions and utilizing their collective influence, these industry titans hope to have a positive global impact, setting a new standard for responsible and forward-thinking business practices.

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