Afrikea, an Ivorian e-commerce startup, has raised $6.2 million in a pre-Series A round. It's also rebranding to ANKA — the name of the SaaS platform it launched for sellers in partnership with DHL and Visa last year.

Founded as an online marketplace for selling and buying African-inspired clothing, accessories, arts and crafts, Afrikrea [now ANKA] said it has recorded 250% year-on-year growth since it launched in 2016.

In order to better support its sellers and the rapid scaling of the business, ANKA was launched in 2021 as the first of its kind all-in-one SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solution to provide a seamless e-commerce service for African micro-retailers. ANKA — which means 'Ours' in Bambara and Djoula — aims to build an infrastructure dedicated to powering e-commerce for its 13,000+ sellers exporting literally "all things made of Africa" to a global community.

ANKA has grown its retailer base to include sellers from 47 out of 54 African countries and completed over $35 million in transactions across 174 countries worldwide. More than 80% are women who have grown their revenue by 50% on average since joining the ANKA community.

The platform currently records over 700,000 visits a month with the majority of customers located in Europe and North America. Now operating as one of several channels under the ANKA umbrella, Afrikrea.com retailers will still have access to the ANKA platform and its expanded services, content and support to drive business growth.

This $6.2 million pre-Series A investment brings the company’s total funding to $8.1 million. The fresh funding will be used to build out the mobile infrastructure of ANKA’s e-commerce SaaS and invest in further product development, including the expansion of the company’s scale of operations across new verticals. It will also be used to boost talent acquisition across its product, sales and finance teams, while looking to hire more remote developers.

With this rebranding, Afrikrea is now one of the features on the ANKA's website. Other features are: a customized online storefront (like Shopify) which is linked to sellers’ social media platform and marketplace channels (such as Stripe, Gumroad or PayPal); access to shipping products with DHL; and receiving payments in various currencies (including a buy now, pay later option).

Moulaye Taboure, co-founder and CEO of ANKA said since the launch of ANKA last April, "our subscribers tripled and volume on the newest services has multiplied by eight just over the last six months. As our vision and clients' needs had outgrown the singular purpose of the Afrikrea marketplace, operating under ANKA provides a more holistic description of our mission as a pan-African company".

Through the ANKA platform, which integrates every aspect of business, we now serve sellers, not just in fashion, but in what will be a variety of sectors in over 80% of the African countries.

— Moulaye Taboure

Taboure stated that instead of trying to get Africans to buy more or spend faster, ANKA will be one the few companies that actually help them earn, own and create, at a global scale.

"Growth, velocity, volume and financial inclusion are all empty words without value creation, distribution and worldwide scale. Most of Africa’s development problems will not be solved by just better efficiencies in moving cash; we need to produce, sell and build for the world to matter", he said.

The pre-Series A round was led by Investisseurs & Partenaires, with participation from Alibaba’s Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai, BESTSELLER Foundation, VestedWorld, Enigmo, Groupe Prunay and Rising Tide Africa. They joined existing investors SAVIU Ventures (who is also participating in the round), Lofty Inc, Kepple Africa, Consonance, id4 Ventures and Thierry Petit.

"We are delighted to have led ANKA’s funding round. This company is at the heart of IPAE2’s investment strategy: a talented and ambitious African founders team, a significant growth and value creation potential and a compelling impact thesis", Sebastien Boye, Co-CEO of Investisseurs & Partenaires, said.

"Indeed, ANKA aims to give micro entrepreneurs in Africa all the tools to access the potentialities of the global e-commerce market. The company has the potential to create a full entrepreneurial ecosystem, around its comprehensive platform. We are very impressed with the growth of ANKA since it launched and are confident in their ability to drive digital and financial inclusion for African entrepreneurs".

How ANKA works

ANKA operates as an inclusive SaaS allowing sellers to:

  • Sell via a customised online storefront (like Shopify), linked to sellers’ social media platforms and marketplace channels (such as Stripe, Gumroad or PayPal)
  • Ship globally with verified best rates via leading logistics partner DHL
  • Receive payments internationally in all currencies, including a free Buy Now Pay Later option, and the ability to withdraw funds through local African payment methods like mobile money
  • Manage the lifecycle of all transactions  with a single omni-channel dashboard.
  • Sell on the Afrikrea.com marketplace: The platform is now one of the channels accessible when you use ANKA