Kenya’s Jumba gets $1 million to help hardware store operators restock seamlessly

The construction industry in Kenya is so big that it is among the few globally to have expanded amid the 2020 Covid lockdowns. And it shows no signs of slowing down with the country’s data agency, the National Bureau of Statistics from Kenya, projecting it to grow at an average rate of 6.1% over the next three years. And while most of this growth is attributable to government-planned megaprojects, the growth of real estate, fueled by ever-increasing demand for housing, is another harbinger of transformation. However, the Kenyan construction sector remains very rudimentary, and almost all supplies, even those from resellers, are purchased physically. Jumba, a b2b construction technology platform launched in April this year, aims to bridge this gap through an online platform that allows hardware store operators, found on almost every block, to seamlessly restock. The startup is now poised for big growth after securing $1 million in seed funding to fine-tune its technology and expand its reach to capture markets in major Kenyan cities. “We have begun to expand our products according to regional demands and the needs of hardware stores. The idea is to make Jumba the source for all building materials in Kenya and, when we eventually grow, beyond its borders,” Jumba CEO Kagure Wamunyu, who co-founded the startup with Miano Njoka (CTO), told TechCrunch. . The pre-seed round was led by Enza Capital with participation from Seedstars International Ventures, Chandaria Capital, Future Africa, Logos Ventures, First Check Africa and various angel investors. Enza Capital Managing Partner Mike Mompi said: “Africa’s populations are growing rapidly and becoming increasingly urbanized, and the construction industry is a central economic engine supporting sustainable growth across Africa. In a $10 billion industry that has yet to be reshaped by technology, we are delighted to support Kagure and the exceptional team that makes up Jumba.” Jumba, a b2b construction technology platform launched in April this year, enables hardware store operators, found on almost every block, restock without a problem. image credits: Jumba Wamunyu said that Jumba’s launch was inspired by her experiences as a real estate entrepreneur, where she always faced inefficiencies in building material purchases, due to fluctuating prices and random stockouts. Wamunyu, a civil engineer and contractor who helped Uber roll out its services in Kenya, was also part of the team that propelled Kobo360, a logistics technology startup, to expand across Africa. Njoka, her co-founder, is a software engineer who had previously invested with her in real estate projects. As Jumba connects manufacturers with retailers, Wamunyu said the startup will also ensure that small hardware stores (which don’t have enough storage) connect with medium-sized ones near their regions from where they can easily update their inventories, taking away the pressure for spatial expansion. “We will partner with different retailers in different neighborhoods who can then support smaller ones, rather than working with a warehouse model. We will be supplying these big players and the smaller hardware stores will be picking up their stock from these locations,” she said. Jumba negotiates the prices (including its profit margin) of the products with the manufacturers. It also allows resellers to pay for orders on delivery. Wamunyu says she is also considering introducing a buy now and pay later (BNPL) option to allow her better-performing clients to expand their shares and increase their profits. “BNPL can be used to help them stock more, and it is a product that will be introduced but will be built on the reseller’s order history,” Wamunyu said. For a quick start, Jumba has hired Peace Osangir to lead the finance and risk component of the startup as his CFO. Osangir previously worked as COO of Kopo Kopo, a payments company, and was the initial CFO of Kenya’s first mobile lender, Mshwari, which is backed by East Africa’s largest telecommunications company, Safaricom, and NCBA Regional Bank. Wamunyu told TechCrunch that the startup is currently onboarding manufacturers and hardware stores outside of Nairobi as well, to increase its pool of suppliers and resellers.


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