Copia, a Kenyan B2C e-commerce firm, has plans to expand into Rwanda and Tanzania according to CEO, Tim Steele. This expansion would be part of the company’s growth strategy across Africa.
Steele further explained that the Lake Victoria — the great East African lake — region makes for the next expansion step, seeing as Copia’s business model is pushed by population density. Copia is currently available in Uganda, and is also interested in West African markets like Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, along with southern Africa. It is “very possible” that the expansion into Rwanda and Tanzania will take place in 2022, with consideration of Covid-19 spread.
Copia’s mission is to make e-commerce available to people who do not have access to the Internet. The company achieves this by using a network of 30,000 agents, usually shopkeepers, who have product catalogues and can place orders online. Copia pays its agents commissions, which according to the company, increases their incomes by over 30%.
Users of Copia’s service can order for goods online, by phone or through USSD messages. The cost of last-mile delivery is reduced for Copia as the customers would usually collect the goods from the agent themselves. Less than 1% of total purchases gets returned; “People are not buying speculatively. They know what they want and are making considered purchases,” CEO Steele said.
Copia, founded in 2013, has about 1.2 million customers. It has a warehouse in the north of Nairobi measured at 6,000 square metre. Copia will make use of new purpose-built warehouses as it enters new markets.