According to a McKinsey & Company study on general e-commerce activities in Africa, consumer spending will exceed $2 trillion over the next three years. Much of this spending is on product imports, which are primarily influenced by consumer demand and the positioning of major African e-commerce platforms.
Afrikrea, a 2016 Ivorian startup, is one of the few platforms that facilitate product exports. It has raised a $6.2 million pre-Series A round while rebranding to ANKA, the SaaS platform it launched for sellers in April last year in collaboration with DHL and Visa.
Moulaye Taboure co-founded Afrikrea with Kadry Diallo and Luc B. Perussault Diallo as a marketplace for African-inspired fashion, clothing, accessories, arts, and crafts.
Following some research, the founders discovered that these sellers also used other channels, such as websites or social media. It made sense to them to create another platform — ANKA — where merchants can monitor their sales and inventory across all of these channels: Africa, social media, and websites using an omnichannel dashboard.
Other features, such as a customizable online storefront, payment links, and access to a variety of payment methods and logistics, increased the platform’s appeal to African merchants. The appeal extended to the company itself, resulting in a name change despite the marketplace growing at a rate of 250 percent year on year since its inception.
“The main goal is to reflect our much larger purpose and mission right now.” In addition, we will have a much larger product offering because we will serve not only people in fashion but anyone who wants to export African products,” CEO Taboure.
The ANKA website now includes Afrikrea as a feature. Other benefits include a customized online storefront (such as Shopify) that is linked to sellers’ social media platforms and marketplace channels (such as Stripe, Gumroad, or PayPal); access to shipping products with DHL; and receiving payments in multiple currencies (including a buy now, pay later option).
“So wherever you sell, whether on social media, Afrikrea marketplace, or your website, it all ends up in one dashboard,” the CEO explained. “You can easily manage all of your orders and one wallet to get paid and withdraw money.”
When sellers fill out their product catalogs or generate payment links, they can use ANKA for free. However, once sellers decide to use the software to accept payments or make a sale, they must pay €10 ($12) per month to access the service. Additionally, sellers pay €10 ($12) in advance for the platform’s shipping or website hosting services.