JABU, a Namibian B2B e-commerce retail platform, has secured $15 million in Series A funding led Tiger Global.
Tiger Global is making its second investment in the B2B e-commerce industry after backing Wasoko in its mega Series B round. It’s also worth noting that this deal took place before Tiger Global’s $17 billion loss during this year’s tech sell-off.
Box Group, Knollwood, and D Global Ventures are among the other investors in this growth round. Afore Capital, Oldslip, and FJ Labs were among the seed round backers who doubled down.
For many years, small to medium-sized kiosk and store owners across Africa have faced logistical challenges when ordering products from wholesalers and distributors. Apps and more efficient distribution channels have made this process easier for startups like JABU and others like Wasoko, TradeDepot, Omnibiz, MarketForce, MaxAB, and Chari.
Merchants can use Jwallet to order, stock, and pay for their products, and expect same-day delivery, according to the YC-backed startup. In January, the company’s platform was used by over 6,000 merchants in Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia. According to CEO David Akinin, that number has increased by 50%.
The company also provides data-driven services such as sales metrics and agent performances to FMCGs brands and banks via dashboards.
JABU seeks to create a business around its Jwallet wallet, which is currently available as a stand-alone product. Jwallet enables retailers in Southern Africa to facilitate cash withdrawals and deposits to their clients using their physical flows. This play is similar to agency banking, a branchless banking system popular in Nigeria and West Africa in which human agents operate as ATMs to provide financial services to people in rural areas. In Morocco, Chari has a similar product.
There are other working parts of Jwallet. According to the company, drivers who handle distribution for its 232 logistics partners and use the wallet for payments can access asset finance and, for merchants: stock financing. More on the latter, Akinin said he’s betting that the wallet system can provide a more sustainable alternative to the popular BNPL model that other platforms are offering to merchants.
JABU will use the Series A round to extend its position in Southern Africa and enter new markets such as Botswana and Eswatini later this year. What sets Akinin’s company apart from the competition, he claims, is that it is building a much broader ecosystem for small businesses rather than just a marketplace.