Like in other global markets COVID-19 served as a catalyst for e-commerce in Africa. The revenue generated from online shopping in Africa is expected to reach about $46 billion by 2025 with online marketplaces being the key drivers for this growth. Online retailers like Jumia in Nigeria, Souq (now Amazon Egypt), Takealot in South Africa and Kilimall in Kenya have seen significant growth, bringing global products to the local markets they serve.
The Org spoke to the CEO and co-founder of Afrikrea, an online marketplace that has carved a niche for itself by giving products made in Africa access to global markets, while empowering women and SMEs on the continent.
Moulaye Tabouré is a Mali native. He founded Afrikrea with co-founders Kadry Diallo and Luc B Perussault-Diallo in 2016 with a shared mission of making African-made products easily available to a wider global audience. After Tabouré’s studies in France and working for companies such as PWC and Alstom, the founders figured out how to build a marketplace targeting the African diaspora. The platform has processed $16 million in transactions, catering to clients from over 170 countries. The site receives more than 500,000 visits per month and has an active social media presence on Facebook and Instagram which have served as sales channels as well. “When I noticed the billions of dollars that Etsy was generating every year through a platform for consumer facing goods, I realized we could do the same for products made in Africa in a profitable way,” Tabouré told The Org. Most of their clients are from the U.S., Europe and the Caribbean.
To fund its growth, Afrikrea has raised over $2 million in funding, with its most recent round led by Saivu Ventures. Afrikrea was among the top 10 finalists in the Jack Ma Foundation Africa Business Heroes Award in 2019, which aims to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are building technology driven businesses for a sustainable and inclusive economy for the future. The Jack Ma Foundation is a prize initiative awarding $1 million in prize money to 10 entrepreneurs from across Africa. Afrikrea received $65,000 along with eight other runners up.
Providing e-commerce retailers in Africa with an online presence
The key value proposition for Afrikrea is that it serves as a partner to both micro-retailers and their clients. One of the key barriers that is impeding a greater proliferation of e-commerce in Africa is the issue around accepting payments and reliable shipment and delivery methods. Afrikrea has transformed the e-commerce space for the global African fashion and design sector by facilitating payments, commerce and providing the technology framework needed for its retailers.
To solve these challenges the company partnered with DHL in 2019 to give merchants the ability to ship globally using a reliable and well-known brand. This year Afrikrea launched an all-in-one SaaS e-commerce platform for their merchants called Anka which is currently the largest e-commerce exporter in Africa, and through DHL they ship more than 10 tons of cargo from the continent monthly. Anka uses a subscription model where Merchants pay $12 a month and have access to the capability to create a customizable online storefront. They get an Afrikrea Visa credit card, which allows them to receive and withdraw payments. The platform provides merchants with a wallet and a loan facility, advocating for financial inclusion. Merchants get access to data and inventory management capability and the ability to receive payments directly through social media platforms. They offer a cost-effective drop-shipping service in which Anka accepts gives the retailers the capability to to generate waybills and they ship directly to their customers.
Afrikrea aspires to have over a million users. “We want to be about impact and are working hard to ensure we get a $1 million volume of sales a month at least, and in 5 years get to a stage where we can do $4 million a month,” Tabouré said. With an energetic team of 19 employees from 14 different nationalities, Afrikrea aims to become the go-to online marketplace for retailers in Africa. The company is looking at expanding beyond West Africa and is actively searching for merchants in Southern Africa and Morocco. Through its platform the company promotes women-run businesses, in which 80% of its merchants are female who employ 70% women. The company will be looking at how it can actively support initiatives such as the 15% percent pledge, which advocates for retailers to give black-owned brands more visibility allowing for more inclusive capitalism and a world where everyone thrives, regardless of their race or background.