Copia Global, ambitious Kenyan digital commerce startup, has raised $50 million to accelerate its African expansion.

By Mark Kawalya

Copia Global, an ambitious Kenyan B2C e-commerce company, has raised $50 million in a Series C equity round that was headlined by Goodwell Investments.

The financing round onboarded new investors such as US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Zebu Investment Partners, Koa Labs, along with previous investors Lightrock, Perivoli Innovations and German Development Finance Institution DEG.

This round follows another successful series B round that saw Copia raise $26 million.
The firm cumulatively raised $33.5 million through its Series A and B funding, but with its Series C, Copia’s total funding since it was founded now stands at $83.5 million.

The start-up has its roots in Kenya and was started by Tracey Turney and Jonathan Lewis as a business following a B2C model for its online commerce platform that would be a digital marketplace for Africa’s low-to middle-income consumers.

“The whole premise of Copia was to find a solution that was sustainable and profitable to serve consumers so that we could improve their quality of life and that of their families,” said CEO Tim Steel.

According to a company statement, the firm leverages mobile technologies, a widespread network of local agents and an Afrocentric proprietary Copia Logistics system to tap the market in ways that traditional retail and uninitiated Western e-commerce models cannot.

According to IMF projections, consumer spending in Africa is estimated to reach $2 trillion in the next three years. The main driver for this growth is the continent’s middle class, which is growing. However, a big impediment to this growth is that the shopping needs of this demographic which are not aptly served due to the high cost of logistics. This means Western modeled e-commerce companies like Jumia often struggle to make feasible profits.
Copia has successfully run a business that enables it to deliver goods profitably due to how it reaches the market. The firm mainly targets its activities to customers in rural settings that are locked out of accessing the same goods and services in terms of variety, price point and quality that similar consumers in urbanized areas access.

Despite this market being hard to reach and their spending potential being lower, Copia says that 750 million people across the continent have a collective purchasing power that, if harnessed, presents an enormous business opportunity.

Copia employs a strategy that deploys those who have over the years established familiarity and trust with local customers and skills that qualifies them to become agents. They don the firms’ uniforms and market the Copia platform to the communities, eventually getting them to make their first transaction on their digital platform. Once that has happened consumers invariably return for further purchases.

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