Analysts say the value of e-commerce in Africa should to reach $ 29 billion next year, but Africans still struggle to make international payments for products online.
Cards, M-Pesa, bank transfers, and mobile money are the most common methods Africans use to make payments. But while various payment gateways have provided better experiences than they were, say, a decade ago, there is more work to be done. to be finished.
Klasha, a startup based in Lagos and San Francisco, sees a niche in cross-border commerce and provides multiple integrations and APIs to facilitate transactions in this space. Today it raised $ 2.4 million in large-scale seeds.
Jessica Anuna founded Klasha in 2018. At the time, the company’s goal was to empower African consumers to purchase some products directly global fashion retailers.
But Klasha is more than that now, she tells me. It has several features and a new business model center around helping Africans make payments and get the goods they want (as long as they are not perishable), regardless of their location.
With KlashaWire, consumers can pay with African currencies: naira, cedis, shillings – via various payment methods, which Klasha then pays traders in dominant currencies like the US dollar or the euro within two business days.
Its payment links feature allows merchants who do not have storefronts to accept payments by sharing links with customers via email or social media..
Next is its mobile application which allows users in Nigeria, Ghana or Kenya to send and receive money. They can also create virtual cards and finance them with their respective currencies.
Then the payment solution, which works much like Checkout, allows international merchants to collect payments from Africa in local currencies.. And unlike Checkout or Fast which only work with international payment methods, Klasha uses what Africans are used to: bank account, card, USSD, M-Pesa, and mobile money.
Klasha Checkout, as it is called, can To be integrated in any e-commerce platform, the company said. It has plugins for the big name eCommerce sites WooCommerce, OpenCart, and BigCommerce and is close to signing an official partnership with BigCommerce, expanding its reach to more merchants around the world.
Besides to her payments game, Klasha is also in logistics. Anuna says that by combining the two worlds of payments and logistics, Klasha is opening up the global e-commerce economy to African consumers and merchants looking to expand into Africa. it’s clear.
“Many of our traders have told us, if we want to be able to accept payments from Africa, we need a way to it’s clear ship to Africa in a short period of time and provide the best end-to-end logistics experience to our consumers. And that’s what we did, ”said the CEO.
According to her, the logistics department helps African customers get their products from Europe or the United States in five to nine days, processed via partnerships with third-party logistics providers. On a lighter note, Klasha’s lead time is quite commendable compared to industry figures of up to two weeks..
Since Klasha relaunched in May after a few iterations, it has processed over 20,000 transactions and claims to grow 366% month over month. Klasha generates income through sales commissions and subscriptions rretailers pay to use the platform for analytical tools to assess the performance of their products in different markets.
“For many of these retailers, this is their first time selling in Africa before. So we offer a complete end-to-end e-commerce suite for these retailers, instead of having to use disjointed services that are not interconnected with technology, ”she said..
Klasha’s technology enables seamless cross-border transactions at a time when Africa is quickly growing and needs both payment and logistics solutions for e-commerce, said Alison Lange Engel, partner at Greycroft.
This is the third major investment the venture capital firm has made in Africa after betting on unicorn company Flutterwave and AZA Group, a fintech firm founded and led by Elizabeth Rossiello.
Like Rossiello, Anuna, 29, had experience in the industry before starting the Klasha supported by Techstars. The managing director worked at Amazon and Shopify in London and then started a logistics company in China. It was there, while managing FMCG exports to UK and US for major wholesalers and suppliers, she understood that traders in China (Africa’s largest trading partner) needed more efficient ways to receive payments from Nigerian traders.
The experience opened Anuna’s eyes to the world of cross-border commerce and payments and this was essential in how she was able to raise venture capital as a solo founder.
Black founders receive 0.6% of global venture capital funding. There is no data to describe the plight of African foundresses, but if you could paint a picture it wouldn’t be pretty.
“There are a lot of obstacles that you would encounter as a founder, like facing [unnecessary] nuances and trying to explain the market and your industry to investors before getting a check, ”said Anuna, explaining that it can be twice as difficult for a founder in Africa to raise funds on the continent..
But Anuna believes investors are starting to wake up to support more female founders, especially in fintech where recent startup and venture capital activities have been dazzling..
Besides Greycroft, other investors include Seedcamp, Practical VC, Plug and Play, First Round VC, 2.12 Angels, MiLA Capital, Berrywood Capital, AVG Basecamp Fund and Expert Dojo. Angel investors like Joe Cross of Wise and Michael Pennington of Gumtree have also invested.
Klasha hopes to use the funds to help retailers such as ASOS, Zara and H&M receive payments from African consumers. With a clientele of 10,000 pIn Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, Klasha plans to expand to three more African countries before the end of the year.