A study by McKinsey & Company on general e-commerce activities in Africa says consumer spending will reach over $2 trillion in the next three years. Much of this spending falls under the importation of products, primarily influenced by consumer demand and the positioning of major e-commerce platforms in Africa.
Afrikrea, an Ivorian startup founded in 2016, is one of the few platforms facilitating product exports. It has raised a $6.2 million pre-Series A round while rebranding to ANKA, the SaaS platform it launched for sellers in partnership with DHL and Visa in April last year.
Moulaye Taboure launched Afrikrea with Kadry Diallo and Luc B. Perussault Diallo as a marketplace for Africa-based and -inspired fashion, clothing, accessories, arts and crafts. Last year, Afrikrea said it served more than 7,000 sellers from 47 African countries and buyers from 170 countries.
After some research, the founders noticed that these sellers also engaged with other channels, such as websites or social media. To them, it made sense to build another platform — ANKA — where merchants, with an omnichannel dashboard, can monitor their sales and inventory across all these channels: Afrikrea, social media and websites.
Other features like a customizable online storefront, payment links, and access to various payment methods and logistics added to the platform’s appeal to Afrikrea merchants. The appeal extended to the company itself, resulting in a name change despite the marketplace recording 250% year-on-year growth since launch.
“The main goal behind that is to reflect our much larger purpose and mission now. And also much larger product offering as we are going to serve not only people in fashion but in every industry where anyone wants to export African products,” CEO Taboure told TechCrunch in an interview.
Afrikrea is now one of the features on the ANKA website. Others include a customized online storefront (like Shopify), which is linked to sellers’ social media platforms and marketplace channels (such as Stripe, Gumroad or PayPal); access to shipping products with DHL; and receiving payments in various currencies (including a buy now, pay later option).
“So wherever you sell, on social media, Afrikrea marketplace, or your website, all of it ends up in one dashboard,” the CEO said. “You can manage all of your orders and one wallet to get paid and withdraw your money easily.”
ANKA is free to use when sellers fill up their product catalogs or generate payment links. However, once sellers decide to start using the software to accept payments or make a sale, they pay €10 (~$12) to access the service monthly. Also, sellers pay €10 (~$12) upfront for the platform’s shipping or website hosting services.
Taboure told TechCrunch that about 40% of its over 13,000 subscribers do not use the marketplace. To them, ANKA serves to generate payment links to use on other channels or fulfill orders …….