As Philly’s Grovara eyes a more global presence, the company launches its first notable fundraising round

Philly-based Grovara is expanding the way it does business internationally, aiming to establish itself in the Middle East.

Abu Kamara at Grovara Food Week Nov. 2022 (Courtesy photo)

Grovara is entering 2023 ready to take the world by storm.

The B2B ecommerce company was founded in 2010 by Peter Groverman and Abu Kamara with a mission to make international trade easier for natural food and wellness manufacturers who are based in the US. The company got its roots in both Philly and Bethlehem, and is the maker of an international wholesale ecommerce marketplace.

Within the last year, though, Grovara has aimed to become a “global to global” ecommerce company, bringing on its first brands based in Mexico and the UAE. And with a recent series of events, the local company is also setting broader sights on the Middle East.

In November 2022, the company hosted Grovara Food Week in Dubai, partnering with Dubai Global Connect, a physical wholesale marketplace. The partnership was originally formed in April 2022, Kamara, cofounder and CEO, said.

“They want to use our marketplace as the digital marketplace for these thousands of brands that they have showcasing their products 24/7 physically,” Kamara said. “So it’s a good opportunity for Grovara’s platform to be used at that level.”

Grovara brought 15 brands from the United States and Mexico to Dubai for the trade show. Kamara said it was an opportunity for these brands to learn about global trade and brand expansion, and it was the first time the partnership showed how the digital and physical marketplaces could be combined.

“I say all the time, the future of trade is digital with a human touch,” said Kamara. “So the human touch is a physical experience, right, that we have to have this relationship, while we’re literally digitizing global trade.”

In order to aid in some of this expansion, the company is currently raising a preferred equity round which is expected to close at the end of February. The round comes before they launch a Series A, Kamara said, though he declined to share any details about it at the time. He did say it will set up Grovara for the next two years of upcoming projects.

Updates to its technology are in the cards: The company is looking to implement an export documentation tool and an online wire transfer payment system to its platform, Kamara said. It also plans to hire more people globally, adding to its team of 25 — five of which are in the Philly region — including people in Mexico, Dubai and Bahrain. Kamara said they aim to hire more people in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Hong Kong this year.

And as the company looks forward, Kamara said the team is looking to bring as many brands as possible from the United States to Dubai. They’re also aiming to do more trade shows this year in other countries that would help expand their global reach.

“After the fundraise, just growing the team internationally and having sales managers, account managers and support people that are right there where the buyers are, I think is really going to be a game changer on that human experience level,” he said.

Overall, Govara is aiming to focus on its brand recognition as it fundraises and heads into the global marketplace this year.

“What we want to be is not only the marketplace for exporting and importing brands, we want to be leadership within the global trade industry as well,” he said. “So if we have the opportunity to be the ones that are hosting an event where all these topics are discussed and trade is being done, I think it’s a great opportunity for us moving forward and for this partnership as well.”

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

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