JABU, Namibian B2B e-commerce startup has raised a $3.2 million financing round.
JABU was established in mid-2020 by CEO David Akinin to improve Namibia’s inefficient and nearly non-existent supply chain and distribution.
The seed round ended last year. Afore Capital, Y Combinator, FJ Labs, Quiet Capital, Kli Capital, Pareto Capital, and other angel investors participated in the round.
As a last-mile distribution e-commerce business, JABU joins a growing number of African startups that assist small merchants in ordering and stocking their items while also providing data-driven services to suppliers and manufacturers.
Its platform connects over 6,000 retailers with local and multinational suppliers like Namibia Breweries Limited, ABInBev, Bokomo, Coca-Cola, and Namibmills, as well as digitizes orders, payments, and logistics.
For the majority of last year, JABU functioned in stealth mode.
It was the first time a Namibian firm was accepted into Y Combinator’s summer batch in 2021.
The Southern African region is highlighted by JABU.
The company is currently active in 3 Namibian cities and has recently expanded into 2 Zambian cities.
Its monthly GMV has expanded 25x and the average growth of supplied SKUs stands at nearly 53 percent monthly since March.
Revenue has increased 35 times in the same time period, according to the corporation.
When money from retailers arrives at JABU distribution hubs, it usually takes 48 hours for it to be deposited into banks.
JABU’s wallets will allow businesses to deposit and withdraw money instantly in sync with these centers, eliminating the need to go through this tedious process.
“The banks and others have sat down and said, ‘How can we repair this?’ because our volumes have grown so much and we’ve picked up so much money in physical currency.”
“We moved from having a few R100,000 (rands) a week to millions of Namibian dollars in a week. And we realized there’s something bigger and better than we imagined,” Akinin said of the company’s decision to create wallets for its merchants.
According to Akinin, the next stage of JABU’s wallet system would see businesses offering users other services in addition to their digitized cash.
“The only way to do that is to work with merchants, and they go through a KYC (know your customer) process where we ensure the merchants have the proper space and account to back their float.”
“Then they conduct business with their clients. As a result, we’re moving into the B2B2C area through the merchants we work with,” he explained.
The majority of JABU’s revenue comes from self-distribution or third-party fleets. Merchandising, as well as targeted marketing and advertising, help the company make money.
In the future, it will take commissions from transactions made through merchant wallets.
Akinin founded a company to provide digital mortgages, but it later morphed into a construction firm with offices in Namibia, Zambia, and Cameroon.
As a result of the pandemic, Akinin’s construction company launched a COVID relief effort in Namibia, donating food supplies. Then he discovered a B2B e-commerce retail possibility in the country.
“When we arrived in the informal sector, we saw that the city had closed down every single informal retailer.”
“And when they did that, we had this program we’d designed to digitize housing demand,” he explained how JABU got started.
“We hired 40 people from the community, and in about two weeks, we had registered 1,000 businesses that were impacted by the shutdown.”
“We saw there was a great opportunity here to not only assist them to reopen but also to grasp something very important: they don’t have a supply chain and no method to source their items at a reasonable price.”
Akinin told TechCrunch that JABU, which has over 200 workers, is planning a Series A fundraising round this quarter.
The seed financing and future expansion round will be used to expand into Botswana and South Africa, increase the startup’s tech and operations team, and train its field agents.