SOUTH AFRICA – SABI, an early-stage start-up with ambitious plans to aid millions of merchants across Africa, Sabi, has opened an office in Johannesburg, South Africa to tap into the US$9 billion informal economy.

Moreover, the Nigerian startup has partnered with Vumele, a South African technology platform, to extend its reach and services to South Africa’s informal economy.

Sabi helps connect merchants, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers, bringing them access to a larger marketplace and enabling them with other helpful products like loans and inventory management.

Launched in 2020 by Anu Adasolum, CEO and co-founder, and Ademola Adesin, the company has established an office in Kenya’s informal market and has had its eyes set on South Africa, Ivory Coast and Democratic Republic of the Congo for some time.

Founded in Nigeria, SABI has grown into the largest commercial services platform for Africa’s informal economy, with a US$500m annualised gross merchandise value as of July 2022.

Two-hundred thousand traders and 10 000 agents, mostly low-income earners or traders without access to traditional business or financial services, in Africa already use the platform via the SABI app.

Sabi says the partnership and launch will help it tap into South Africa’s informal economy, which the CEO describes as an often-neglected group across Africa.

This group includes over 200,000 spaza shops and spazarettes, 100,000 Kasi Kos traders & taverns, and 500,000 street hawkers and table top traders.

In a media release, SABI chief executive and co-founder Anu Adasolum says South Africa’s micro, small and medium-sized traders can now improve their cash flow with more reliable supply chains and better customer marketing using SABI as “Africa’s leading B2B platform for goods and services distribution.”

South Africa is a key market in Sub-Saharan Africa’s U$800 billion informal trade economy, which is made up of over 56 million micro, small and medium-sized businesses, most operating offline with little or no exposure to the formalised, digital economy – an issue that SABI strives to solve across the continent.

Vumele uses its technology platform to provide informal merchants with access to supplies, logistics, business tools, payment processing, and financial services.

The platform enables businesses to reach the right suppliers, get sector-specific middle agents and increase their customer reach in hours rather than months.

“SABI’s technology creates a cost-effective bridge that enables informal traders to reach the right suppliers in a way that boosts net benefits for everyone involved in the value chain,” Adasolum said.

“We are excited to partner with Vumele in becoming the ecosystem for South Africa’s informal economy of small buyers, sellers and agents. These hard-working people are an often-neglected group across Africa that provides employment, food and other basic needs for more than 70% of the continent’s population.”

To finance its growth across Africa, Sabi, received US$6 million late last year in a bridge round led by CRE Venture Capital.

This followed its seed round closed in mid-2020 which also attracted leading international investors including Janngo Capital, Atlantica Ventures, and Waarde Capital.

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