E-commerce startup JABU secures US$3.2m to expand into other countries

NAMIBIA – JABU, a Namibian business-to-business e-commerce startup, has received US$3.2 million for its retail venture.

Afore Capital, Y Combinator, FJ Labs, Quiet Capital, Kli Capital, Pareto Capital, and unknown angels participated in the seed round, which completed last year.

The seed financing and future expansion round will be used to expand into Botswana and South Africa, build the tech and operations team, and train the startup’s field agents.

“We went into the informal sector and realized that the city had shut down every single informal retailer,” co-founder and CEO David Akinin who started JABU after his construction company went on a COVID relief program to donate food supplies in Namibia, said.

“And when they did that, we had this software we had developed to like digitize housing demand.”

Although founded in mid-2020, the startup has generated considerable traction. It currently connects over 6,000 retailers to local and multinational suppliers — including Namibia Breweries Limited, ABInBev, Bokomo, Coca-Cola, Namibmills — and digitizes orders, payments and logistics.

Also, the company is currently active in three Namibian cities and has just expanded into two Zambian cities.

Since March, its monthly GMV has increased by 25 times, and the average monthly growth of delivered SKUs has been about 53 percent. Revenue has increased 35 times in the same time period, according to the startup.

The startup has also added a fintech feature — a wallet system for its merchants— that has helped it to grow.

JABU was part of last year’s Y Combinator’s summer accelerator programme, making it the first Namibian startup to join the prestigious American accelerator.

The startup team also played a crucial role in the latest fundraising. Akinin, who worked as a sales and goods analyst at Google, also worked as an investment banker at Credit Suisse for portion of his career.

He would go on to visit prominent African cities such as Johannesburg, Lagos, and Addis Ababa in the future, but it was in Windhoek that he got the idea to attempt something different.

Afore Capital is a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that focuses solely on pre-seed stage companies.

FJ Labs is a stage-agnostic investment firm based in New York that focuses on marketplaces and consumer-facing entrepreneurs. Also based in New York is Kli Capital which is a private investment fund focused on investing in and supporting ambitious founders.

San Francisco-based Quiet Capital invests in technology businesses early to build long-term value.

As a last-mile distribution e-commerce business, JABU was founded in mid-2020 by CEO David Akinin to improve Namibia’s inefficient and nearly non-existent supply chain and distribution.

The Namibian startup has eight distribution facilities and a fleet of cars. Suppliers can use dashboards to see where their products are being delivered, verify critical performance indicators, and schedule merchandising.

They can also run advertising and marketing campaigns in stores, give away products, and profit from merchandising.

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.

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