After being acquired by Kenyan fintech startup, Lipa Later a year ago, Sky.Garden, a Kenyan e-commerce startup, has relaunched its operations with a reported $1.6 million investment, according to Citizen Digital.
As a subsidiary of Lipa Later, Sky.Garden provides merchants access to financing, real-time transaction monitoring, direct bill payments, deposits and withdrawals to M-Pesa or bank accounts, and the option to open a bank account. Additionally, shoppers can buy items directly from the e-commerce marketplace.
According to Eric Muli, CEO at Lipa Later, “Our group vision is to be a commerce catalyst for businesses and communities across Africa. We firmly believe that local ownership and operation are essential in understanding the needs of our people, contributing to the prosperity of our nation, and forging a true connection with our community.”
In September 2022, a year after securing a $4 million Series A funding round, Sky.Garden declared its decision to cease operations, attributing the move to its inability to secure additional funding. Martin Majlund, the co-founder and CEO of Sky.Garden, mentioned that the company was engaged in discussions with investors to prevent the closure.
Two months later, Lipa Later Group acquired Sky.Garden taking full ownership of the e-commerce startup. Muli said that the acquisition will allow the fintech to build an end-to-end avenue that connects merchants to customers. “Sky.Garden has done an incredible job and checks all those boxes. Lipa Later is no stranger to the e-commerce industry, having already established a strong presence in the online payment and finance sectors. This acquisition has greatly accelerated our plans of redefining the shopping experience for consumers,” he said.
When the fintech acquired Sky.Garden, a Kenyan e-commerce startup last December, Muli said they needed about $6 million to operate the venture. Since the acquisition, the fintech startup has explored alternative funding sources like debt and crowdfunding.
In September, Lipa Later secured $5 million in a privately placed debt issuance. “These funds have enabled us to further invest in technology and infrastructure to make our financing solutions even more accessible and convenient for our customers,” according to the CEO.
Before obtaining this funding, the fintech turned to Republic, a crowdfunding platform, to raise $1.2 million from retail investors at a valuation of $30 million. The round concluded on October 29, 2023, with Lipa Later raising $70,177 from 84 investors.
“We are excited about the opportunities this funding has unlocked for merchants and consumers,” says Muli. The Sky.Garden marketplace is now live and is currently offering discounts for the Yuletide.