The Kenya-based e-commerce start-up ShopZetu has lined up $1 million in pre-seed funding.
The concept for the company was created in 2019 and the company was launched two years later by founders Marvin Kiragu and Wandia Gichuru. ShopZetu offers fashion, footwear, beauty and accessories from an array of brands for women, men and children. The extensive assortment features global, as well as African-owned brands. Its new capital infusion was led by Chui Ventures, which supports tech-driven start-ups across Africa that are being led by local founders.
Launch Africa, a Pan-African VC fund that aims to help close the funding gap in the seed and pre-Series A investment landscape in Africa, also participated, as did Roselake Ventures and Logos Ventures and angel investors including Kendall Tang, chief executive officer of RT Knits; Ben Munoz, cofounder and CEO of Nadine West; Sumit Bhasin, senior vice president of global innovation and product development at Estée Lauder Inc.; Patricia Ithau CEO of WPP-Scangroup, and Peter Njonjo, cofounder and CEO of Twiga Foods.
ShopZetu strives to have 100,000 customers by 2024 compared to the current base of 30,000, according to Kiragu, who serves as CEO. “We believe there is a medium-term market opportunity for 10 million customers — less than 1 percent of the total African population, which translates to a $1 billion revenue opportunity, assuming average annual spend of $100,” he said via email Monday.
Noting how every region of the world has a dominant fashion and lifestyle platform that coexists with leading general marketplaces such as Amazon, he named examples like Trendyol in Turkey, a company that Alibaba acquired a stake in five years ago; Myntra in India, which was acquired by the Walmart-owned Flipkart; the Amazon-owned Shopbop in the U.S., and the Noon AD Holdings-owned Namshi in the Middle East.
The platform offers one-stop shopping in Africa’s fragmented retail sector, which includes many small brands catering to shoppers in stalls and through social media. With currently more than 300 vendors, ShopZetu provides a centralized ecommerce platform for the various vendors, as well as much-needed services for some like content creation, digital marketing, warehousing and last-mile delivery.
ShopZetu claims to have seen a more than 400 percent increase in monthly orders since January 2021. The company is said to have sold more than 100,000 products and has served 30,000-plus customers. In a statement, Chui Ventures’ managing partner Joyce-Ann Wainaina praised ShopZetu’s “vision to transform Africa’s fashion e-commerce landscape.”
With its pre-seed funding, ShopZetu plans to scale up its customer acquisition in Kenya, bolster its vendor base to 1,000 brands and expand into the beauty and home décor categories. The company is also looking into securing partnerships with international fashion brands that are keen to find local distribution without opening freestanding stores. On another front, ShopZetu plans to pilot regional delivery services in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.
ShopZetu’s CEO Kiragu predicted in a statement that the future of e-commerce in Africa will be “driven by content, community and hyper-personalization through recent advances in artificial intelligence.”
To try to appeal to more customers, ShopZetu recently joined forces with Safari to list on the M-PESA Super App, which offers users fingerprint and facial recognition security and transaction authentication, detailed usage statements and an easy-to-use and fun design.
Online shoppers can browse the offerings by such categories as body fit, “budget friendly,” gender, “new in” and other expected ones like footwear or accessories, ShopZetu became part of the Endeavor network in January.