Jumba, a Kenyan start-up that simplifies the procurement of building materials, raises $4.5 million • businessupdates.org

by Ana Lopez

Less than a year after launching, Kenyan B2B construction technology startup Jumba has landed clients in major regions of the East African country, a tell-tale sign of the growth it has enjoyed over the past 10 months.

Jumbaenabling building materials retailers (locally regarded as hardware stores), found on nearly every block, to replenish their stock, and allowing real estate developers to access the supplies they need for their projects, claims a growth of 300 times on a monthly basis since April last year.

Co-founder and CEO Kagure Wamunyutold businessupdates.org that the startup, which currently covers 60% of Kenya’s 47 counties, is scaling its operations in the country to keep up with the growing demand for building materials, backed by $4.5 million in funding it raised in the starting lap secured.

The round was led by LocalGlobe, with participation from Enza Capital, which led last year’s $1 million pre-seed round, Foundamental, Seedstars International Ventures, Logos Ventures, SpeedInvest, First Check Africa and Alumni Angel Network.

“We are growing very fast and our problem has always been that we have much more demand than we can answer,” says Wamunyu.

“Most of our customers are located in counties outside the capital Nairobi, and the reason is that production is centralized in Nairobi, but customers are located all over the country, which is where we come in because we help with distribution,” said she.

Co-founder of the startup with Miano Njoka (CTO), Jumba started serving retailers, but then started supplying building materials to developers, which Wamunyu said was informed by demand.

“We realized that the need is not only with the hardware stores, but also with the developers, because they also asked for the products from us,” she said.

Jumba simplifies the procurement of building materials through a common marketplace for retailers and developers, taking the headache out of dealing with multiple suppliers.

Customers can access products through the web platform, but the team of sales associates in the various provinces also assist in customer sourcing. Jumba then negotiates discounted prices (plus their markup) with manufacturers.

“Our store is a one-stop shop, we manage the sourcing and logistics headaches. Using our platform also allows them to access their documents and invoices so they can reconcile,” said Wamunyu, a civil engineer and contractor, who also helped Uber and Kobo360 scale their services in Africa in the past.

“We run internal logistics as one of the ways we create efficiencies to deliver people in a way that is not as expensive for them to access goods.”

The startup is also solving the financing problems for retailers through short-term financing backed by its banking partners, and there are plans to offer developers long-term credit as well.

“Retailers can access financing through services such as buy now, pay later from our banking partners. Construction sites will also have the opportunity to get the materials to complete the works in the near future,” said Wamunyu adding, “We put a lot of emphasis on understanding the customer, and what they need, their pain points, and then custom make our products to fit them. We do this so that we can unlock access and cash flow.

Jumba taps into Kenya’s construction industry, which is expected to continue to grow thanks to mega infrastructure projects. In addition, Wamunyu says she is inspired to continue solving the industry’s challenges, hoping to bridge Kenya’s housing shortage, which is at 80%.

“With our B2B marketplace, our vision is still verticalization in construction and solving the problems in the industry. Kenya remains our core market, the opportunities here are enormous. We plan to scale up in this market to acquire more customers before exploring the next market,” she said.

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