Namibian business-to-business e-commerce startup JABU confirmed to TechCrunch that it has raised a $3.2 million financing round.
The seed round, which was closed last year, welcomed investors such as Afore Capital, Y Combinator, FJ Labs, Quiet Capital, Kli Capital, Pareto Capital and unnamed angels.
As a last-mile distribution e-commerce company, JABU joins a list of startups across the continent that help small retailers order and stock their products and, at the same time, provide data-driven services to suppliers and manufacturers.
CEO David Akinin founded JABU in mid-2020 to fix Namibia’s inefficient and almost nonexistent supply chain and distribution.
Its platform connects over 6,000 retailers to local and multinational suppliers — such as Namibia Breweries Limited, ABInBev, Bokomo, Coca-Cola, Namibmills — and digitizes orders, payments and logistics.
The Namibian startup has its fleet of vehicles along with eight distribution centers. Suppliers using the platform have dashboards to see where their products are being delivered, check key performance indicators and book merchandising. They can also make advertising and marketing campaigns at shops, perform product giveaways and tap into merchandising revenue.
JABU operated in stealth mode for much of last year. It got into Y Combinator during the accelerator’s summer batch in 2021, the first time for a Namibian startup.
The startup doesn’t appear in our curated list because it deferred its Demo Day until this year’s winter batch, where up to 15 African startups have been selected by Y Combinator, according to some sources.
Last year saw venture capital firms and institutional investors scramble to back newly formed and existing business-to-business e-commerce retail startups. One of the earliest in the space, Nigerian B2B e-commerce platform TradeDepot, raised a combined $110 million in debt and equity. Startups from other parts of Africa that raised investments include Morocco’s Chari, Egypt’s Capiter and MaxAB, and Kenya’s Twiga and MarketForce.
JABU shines a light on the Southern Africa region. The company operates in three cities in Namibia and recently expanded into two Zambian cities. Its monthly GMV has grown 25x and the average growth of delivered SKUs stands at nearly 53% monthly since March. The company said that revenue has also seen a 35x growth within the same time frame.
As with most African countries, Namibia is heavily reliant on cash. And JABU — profiting from owning its supply chain — is making efforts to digitize its physical cash collection processes via wallets.
When the money from retailers arrives at JABU distribution centers, it typically takes 48 hours to settle into the banks. Instead of going through this mundane process, JABU’s wallets will allow merchants to deposit and withdraw money immediately in sync with these centers.
“Our volumes growth grew so much and we’ve picked up so much money in physical currency, the banks and others have sat down …….