ANKA, the Ivorian SaaS e-commerce platform for African businesses, has raised $5 million in a pre-Series A extension round. This funding round, which includes equity and debt, brings ANKA’s total investment to $13.5 million since its establishment seven years ago.
The funding round was led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Other participants included fellow development finance institution Proparco and the French investment bank Bpifrance.
ANKA hopes to onboard 100,000 African sellers by 2030 according to a report. The debt will also finance short-term cash cycles for activities such as shipping and payment float. The company intends to utilize the new investment to enhance product development and expand its services, with a particular focus on its key markets: Nigeria, Kenya, and the United States.
Previously known as Afrikrea, ANKA operated as a marketplace for African-based and inspired clothing, accessories, arts, and crafts. It served more than 7,000 sellers from 47 African countries and catered to thousands of buyers from 170 countries.
However, in 2021, the company underwent a rebranding and transformed into a SaaS e-commerce platform. This shift was driven by the desire to consolidate merchants’ focus from various channels such as websites and social media, onto a single platform.
Moulaye Taboure. the startup’s CEO said:
The rebranding to a SaaS e-commerce platform was prompted by the need to consolidate merchants’ focus from other channels, such as websites and social media, onto a single platform. As a result, ANKA serves as a one-stop shop for three kinds of users: exporters looking to ship globally, online merchants who use multiple channels and wish to consolidate all orders on a single platform, and drop shippers seeking to create jobs, produce, and ship from Africa while receiving global payment.
ANKA collaborated with Visa and DHL to launch its platform, ensuring that it meets the requirements of its customers in e-commerce, payments, and international shipping. ANKA positions itself as an all-in-one SaaS solution for global African businesses.
The platform comprises ANKA Marketplace, ANKA Pay, and ANKA Shipping. ANKA Marketplace features a customizable online storefront and an omnichannel interface that allows vendors to monitor their sales and inventory across Africa, social media platforms, and websites.
ANKA Pay enables users to engage in transactions using local payment methods like mobile money, bank transfers, and Visa cards. Additionally, ANKA Shipping leverages DHL’s services to facilitate the dispatch of packages from Africa to other countries in under 72 hours, at a cost of less than $30.
ANKA’s growth since inception
ANKA has experienced considerable growth since its last funding round. Its margins and the community of African SMEs in the 47 countries it operates in have nearly doubled. In the past year, the platform recorded over a million monthly visits and processed $50 million in transactions across 175 countries.
This substantial increase in activity has resulted in a significant boost in ANKA’s turnover, which has surged from €200,000 to €3.6 million, representing an 18-fold increase. The majority of its vendors, with over 20,000 participants, are located in Nigeria and Kenya. Meanwhile, the platform’s largest customer base, consisting of more than 350,000 buyers, is situated in the United States, followed closely by France.
Its success aligns with the broader e-commerce trends in Africa. Nigeria and Kenya are among the top three African countries with the most active e-commerce consumers, while the United States houses a substantial number of Africans in the diaspora who shop online. These markets present significant opportunities for the startup as it seeks to further invest in and promote Africa’s creative economy on a global scale.
According to the report, the company’s unique positioning as an exporter of African products sets it apart from other e-commerce platforms in Africa. It prides itself on being the continent’s largest e-commerce exporter startup, transporting over 10 tonnes of cargo per month.
With the recent fund injection, the startup is well-positioned to strengthen its position in the market, expand its services, and continue supporting African businesses in their global e-commerce endeavors. The company’s innovative approach and focus on the export of African products position it for further growth and success in the evolving e-commerce landscape.
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