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Kenyan social commerce startup – Kapu – raises $8m in seed funding

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Kapu, a Kenyan social commerce startup, has raised $8 million in its seed funding round. The startup, which has been in stealth mode, came out to address the problem of skyrocketing price of goods in Kenya, with aims to revolutionize the way consumers shop for food.

The funding round had leading participations from Giant Ventures and Firstminute Capital, with further participation coming from Founder Collective, Base Capital, Norrsken (Klarna co-founder Niklas Adalberth’s fund) and Raven One. The round was also joined by some of the startup’s early backers, including India’s Meesho and Brazil’s Facily co-founders, and several African family offices, Twitter’s Biz Stone, Supercell’s Ilkka Paananen, Tom Blomfield of Monzo and serial entrepreneur Alexander Rittweger.

Kapu is pursuing its aims by expanding the network of local agents that consumers can place orders with, and also working on activating a feature that allows its customers place order via WhatsApp. Kapu believes that by placing orders directly from the manufacturers and producers, it can help its customers save up to 30% on cost of purchase.

“People spending like 40 to 50% of their household income on the grocery basket is a big problem for society, but it is also a huge opportunity,” Sam Chappate said.

Sam Chappate, founder, Kapu

Kapu was founded in January, 2022 by Sam Chappate – a former Executive vice president at Jumia Group. The startup began operations as a B2C e-commerce service that enables consumers buy groceries at lower prices, through online and offline channels.

“The reason we started Kapu is that we think that there is a more relevant model of e-commerce that can be built to target the grocery basket, which is the biggest portion of spend for the vast majority of consumers. And if by using technology we can bring efficiency then we can have a tremendous impact on society for consumers and businesses,” Chappate said.

Sam Chappette worked with Jumia for seven years. During his time at Jumia, he played roles that made Jumia a revered e-commerce platform in Kenya and the rest of Africa. He joined to lead the expansion into six new countries and later permanently settled in Kenya.

“We love Kenya. My wife is an entrepreneur, she started a business called Kenyan Originals (a cider & craft beverage company). We both see amazing opportunities in Kenya. I hope I can continue to play a part in the growth of the digital economy in Kenya long term. We want to bring up our kids here too. They are already speaking better Swahili than us. Nairobi is a great hub of smart, ambitious, worldly people. The ecosystem is getting more & more exciting, and I believe will continue to retain & attract some of the world’s top talent. It’s a great place to live,” Chappate said.

In the meantime, Kapu noted that it has 1,500 agent collection centers across Nairobi, Kenya, and with the funding, it will work to fully penetrate Kenya’s capital before expanding to new markets. The startup said it has designed its offline channel and online direct-to-consumer models to suit the Kenyan market – where e-commerce has not fully taken off, but social commerce is showing signs of potential.

Speaking on the funding, Sam Endacott, partner at Firstminute capital, said:

“Sam is deeply experienced in both the e-commerce and logistics category and we are thrilled to partner with him and the entire Kapu team to help alleviate the cost of living crisis on the Continent for consumers, unlock social mobility and drive growth for SMEs in the region.”

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When I'm not reading about tech, I'm writing about it, or thinking about the next weird food combinations to try. I do all these with my headphones plugged in, and a sticky note on my computer with the words: "The galaxy needs saving, Star Lord."
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