NAMIBIA – JABU, a Namibian business-to-business e-commerce startup, has received US$3.2 million to grow its venture.
Afore Capital, Y Combinator, FJ Labs, Quiet Capital, Kli Capital, Pareto Capital, and unknown angels participated in the seed round, which completed last year.
As a last-mile distribution e-commerce company, JABU joins a list of startups across the continent that help small retailers order and stock their products and, at the same time, provide data-driven services to suppliers and manufacturers.
CEO David Akinin founded JABU in mid-2020 to fix Namibia’s inefficient and almost non-existent supply chain and distribution, reports TechCrunch.
“We went into the informal sector and realized that the city had shut down every single informal retailer,” co-founder and CEO David Akinin who started JABU after his construction company went on a COVID relief program to donate food supplies in Namibia, said.
“And when they did that, we had this software we had developed to like digitize housing demand,” he said, describing how JABU started.
“We hired 40 people from the community and in about one or two weeks, we registered 1,000 shops that had been affected by this shutdown.
“We realized that there’s a huge opportunity here to not only help them reopen but understand something very key here that they have no supply chain and also no way of sourcing their products at an affordable rate.”
JABU set for future growth
Since its inception, the startup has generated considerable traction. It currently connects over 6,000 retailers to local and multinational suppliers — including Namibia Breweries Limited, ABInBev, Bokomo, Coca-Cola, Namibmills — and digitizes orders, payments and logistics.
The Namibian startup has its fleet of vehicles along with eight distribution centers. Suppliers using the platform have dashboards to see where their products are being delivered, check key performance indicators and book merchandising.
They can also make advertising and marketing campaigns at shops, perform product giveaways and tap into merchandising revenue.
Since March, its monthly GMV has increased by 25 times, and the average monthly growth of delivered SKUs has been about 53 percent. Revenue has increased 35 times in the same time period, according to the startup.
The startup has also added a fintech feature — a wallet system for its merchants— that has helped it to grow.
As with most African countries, Namibia is heavily reliant on cash. And JABU — profiting from owning its supply chain — is making efforts to digitize its physical cash collection processes via wallets.
The next stage of JABU’s wallet system would see merchants offering other services to consumers on top of their digitized cash.
JABU’s revenue largely comes from distribution it carries out itself or via third-party fleets. Merchandising and targeted marketing and advertising also bring in bucks for the company.
It will take commissions from transactions performed on merchants’ wallets in the future.
The company is currently active in three Namibian cities and has just expanded into two Zambian cities.
JABU is gearing for a Series A fundraising this quarter and will use the seed round and subsequent growth round to expand into Botswana and South Africa, grow its tech and operations team, and train its field agents.
The company was part of last year’s Y Combinator’s summer accelerator programme, making it the first Namibian startup to join the prestigious American accelerator.