Mini Exchange grows
UAE-based travel website Musafir.com now has an online visa application service. The new service will allow customers to apply for visas to the UAE and 14 other destinations and have their travel documentation processed online. Applicants can apply and make payment through the site, the visa will be processed then emailed back to them ready to be shown at immigration. “We are very excited to be launching this convenient new visa application service that will play a key role in attracting, even more, visitors to the UAE,” said Sachin Gadoya, managing director and co-founder of Musafir.com. “We believe it’s imperative to make the travel process as easy as possible for the customer, and introducing this new product for visas prior is a milestone in our firm’s objectives of providing premium travel experience.” The firm, which says it is the first travel provider in the GCC to offer such a service online, reported that it has witnessed a 40 per cent growth in inbound tourist visa applications from 2015 to the current year. Online UAE marketplace Mini Exchange has raised $3 million (Dhs11 million) to drive growth. The start-up, which sells products for mothers and kids, will use the cash to launch an app in English and Arabic, as well as expand into new markets in the GCC. Mini Exchange said the money was raised through a funding round that closed in just over three months and was oversubscribed. According to the Centre of Retail Research, digital retail is expected to account for 21.5 per cent of all global sales by 2018. Mini Exchange said the figure, combined with the high penetration rate of tablets and smartphones, underpins its vision of becoming a multilingual “smart shop system”. The app will be launching in tandem with plans to expand into Kuwait and Qatar, allowing customers access to its growing range of 850 brands and 44,000 products. Since its inception in 2014 by expat Sarah Jones (pictured), Mini Exchange has grown from a small team of four people to 24.