Copia, a Kenyan logistics and e-commerce firm, has raised $26 million series B funding round led by LGT Lightstone with participation from Perivoli Innovations, Endeavor Catalyst, ELEA and Goodwell Investments.
The startup which was founded in 2013 is targetted at low-income consumers who are underserved partly by virtue of living mainly outside urban areas.
Tim Steel, CEO of Copia speaking to Quartz about the new investment said: “We built our business on a mobile platform to bring retail services to low to middle-income African consumers—consumers who are remote, unbanked, unconnected and who may not a valid ID or address. Other e-commerce players are focused on the top of the pyramid with middle-class and elite.”
To ensure that Copia reaches the low-income earners in the countryside, the startup has over 5,000-strong agent network comprising mainly of local, small shopkeepers who earn commissions by serving as “points of aggregation of orders and delivery distribution.”
How does this work? The customer rather than ordering by themselves online visit one of the stores of the agents who on their behalf place the order, take payments and serve as delivery points.
These agents also serve as an avenue or pathway to build a direct relationship with consumers. “We established relationships with agents in these areas because those agents are trusted members of the community and through them, we build a direct relationship with the consumer,” Steel says.
So far, Copia says it has fulfilled more than 3 million orders to 450,000 consumers while operating only in central Kenya. But it’s now eyeing expansion across the entire country and to other countries in East Africa as part of a wider pan-African ambition.
This $26 million investment follows the $2 million Copia raised earlier this year from Goodwell Investments.