March 16

Investments Flood into Africa’s B2B E-Commerce Startups

By Abubakar Idris

Victor Onuwa runs a small grocery store in central Lagos, as one of thousands of informal retailers who sell food and staple goods to local residents in the city. The size of his store, and the cash he has available, means that he has to constantly restock.

In the past, that involved waiting until his distributors stopped by the market, or fighting his way through busy traffic to buy goods at a warehouse. Now, he uses a smartphone app. “Whenever I need goods, I go on one of these apps, pick the items I want, and it would be delivered to my store the next day,” Onuwa told Rest of World.

Retail spending in Africa is estimated at more than $1.4 trillion by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Most of it happens in stores like Onuwa’s — informal street vendor setups, open market stalls, and mom-and-pop stores. That fragmented ecosystem makes it complex for suppliers, such as consumer goods companies like Unilever and Procter & Gamble, to get their products to market. A new crop of business-to-business e-commerce startups across the continent are trying to solve the problem, developing logistics and distribution services to help connect informal retailers to manufacturers and large wholesalers.

Photo courtesy of Hello Lightbulb.

Source: Rest of World (link opens in a new window)

business development, e-commerce, startups