Kenyan e-commerce startup, Copia Global has secured $20 million in a Series C extension round.
Pan-African VC firm, Enza Capital invested in the round alongside other investors like Goodwell Investments, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, German development finance institution DEG, Elea, Perivoli Foundation and Sorenson Foundation.
The funding will enable the e-commerce startup to focus on its profitability vision. Copia Global serves middle and low-income Africans in Kenya and Uganda [until April 2023].
According to Els Boerhof, the managing partner at Goodwell Investments, "Copia's e-commerce model is built for the unique requirements of the African market and will save many Africans a lot of time and money. We see it as one of the next big leapfrogging technologies; just like mobile phones leapfrogged landlines and solar power leapfrogged the grid, Copia is leapfrogging retail."
As of February 2023, the company fulfilled over 13 million orders in both countries through a network of over 43,000 agents.
"We recognised in our capital markets environment that we didn’t want to continue the Ugandan operation, which was a great market and opportunity. Without the capital to get it to profitability, it made sense to hold off there. Then, we looked at the Kenyan operation and knew we had to streamline Kenya as well," according to Turner, founder and chair of Copia.
"And our shift to focusing on the digital now coming from the fact that our customers have digitised so quickly means we needed to change how we operate in Kenya. And so we’ve done that to focus the business on the digital relationship with the customer, which is quite different from what it was just a year ago."
Copia currently has about 11 regional depots and one fulfilment centre in Kenya at Tatu City—Kenya's first operational special economic zone. "The Kenya entity is rapidly growing its e-commerce service, providing middle-income consumers with an unrivalled high-quality, low-cost, distribution capability, built on a network of more than 50,000 agents. This service also provides local manufacturers with a unique, efficient route to market," says Tim Steel, the CEO.
While currently centred on operations within Kenya, the e-commerce startup, with aspirations to surpass $60 million in annual revenue by year-end, maintains future plans for Pan-African expansions. "We are all heads down and focused on Kenya right now, and we won’t pick up our heads until after we hit that milestone. We’ve done a lot of reconnaissance work and planning for where we’ll go next and the international rollout plan will come after we reach profitability in Kenya," Turner said.
Copia has also appointed John Lazar, the former CEO of Metaswitch, a Microsoft subsidiary, to its board. In a statement quoted by TechCrunch, Lazer said: "I’ve admired this company for a long time, and we think the conditions are right. E-commerce companies are facing some difficulties at the moment, but the kind of push towards digitisation feels like an inflexion point for us and it just changes the game on unit economics and efficiencies."
A few days ago, Copia signed a five-year partnership with Visa to provide digital financial services to middle to low-income consumers in Kenya. The partnership between Copia and Visa will include a digital wallet that brings together shopping and financial services into one user-friendly platform, according to a statement seen by Bendada.com
"Copia’s e-commerce platform provides the perfect springboard for Visa to bring financial services to the mass market. Copia’s network of customers, agents and delivery sub-contractors will benefit from Visa’s capabilities on contactless payments, remittances, and loyalty solutions," said Eva Ngigi-Sarwari, Visa Kenya Country Manager.