Wasoko has today announced its expansion into Zambia, marking the company’s first location in Southern Africa. The company will invest over $1mn in its first year of operations to support local Zambian businesses and communities to get more essential goods for less through the power of e-commerce.
With its central hub located in Lusaka, Wasoko’s operations will enable small retailers across the city to access an affordable range of products for same-day delivery and working capital financing solely through the convenience of a mobile app. The formation of Lusaka as a central hub is also part of Wasoko’s company-wide pivot to a hub and spoke logistics network to drive stronger operational efficiency and significantly boost its capacity for faster regional expansions.
According to Daniel Yu, Founder and Global CEO at Wasoko, Zambia is an ideal environment to launch the company’s model and strongly aligns with its current core markets, both in terms of similar regulatory practices and a supplier base which is intertwined with East Africa. The company is confident that its new launch will not only play a huge role in accelerating its existing progress across the continent but also significantly strengthen the purchasing power of everyday citizens in Zambia and enhance their livelihoods in the process.
Wasoko is also doubling its service radius across all of its existing locations in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda, where it has amassed a huge network of over 200,000 informal retailers and delivered more than 5mn orders to-date. This move marks the latest milestone for the company, which raised a $125mn Series B round – the largest venture financing round ever raised for a non-fintech startup in Africa – in March 2022 and was assessed by the Financial Times as Africa’s Fastest Growing Company last year.
Since its launch in 2016, Wasoko has pioneered the development of innovative technology to address the supply chain inefficiencies faced by millions of local shop owners in Africa’s informal retail sector. Currently, the industry across Africa is worth over $600bn, while in Zambia specifically, over 70% of households purchase their food from informal retailers. Despite its importance, the sector still remains highly fragmented and inefficient with local shops facing a number of major challenges, including frequent stockouts, limited access to capital, and difficulty receiving goods from suppliers.
Through Wasoko’s mobile app, shop owners can purchase goods from manufacturers and distributors at competitive prices based on supply and demand as well as receive real-time tracking data on sales, business insights, and market trends. The platform has also built an end-to-end logistics process across areas including procurement, distribution, financing, and technology, enabling Wasoko to deliver best-in-class fulfillment and merchant engagement rates.