DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH, is providing equity capital of USD 7.5 million to the East African e-commerce company Copia Global Inc. (Copia). New capital will allow the company to grow its core business, drive its pan-African expansion and add integrated financial services to its product portfolio. Total funding stands at approximately USD 50 million. Other investors include the US development bank DFC, Goodwell Investments, Lightrock and Zebu Investment Partners.
Combination of proprietary infrastructure and mobile technologies to reach the African mass market
Until now, 750 million low and middle-income people in Africa have had limited access to quality affordable goods for their everyday needs – or they travel long distances and pay high prices to get them. Copia’s recipe for success is a mix of customer focus, proprietary delivery systems, use of technology, and a unique agent model. Thousands of local micro-enterprises such as small shopkeepers or hairdressers, mostly women, serve as order and delivery points for Copia’s customers. This enables these customers to participate in e-commerce, even if they are unbanked or have no internet or delivery addresses.
“We are investing in Copia because their special mobile commerce business is a model to successfully reach numerous underserved middle-low income Africans. Copia is also a platform to bring much needed financial services to these customers,” explains Monika Beck, a member of DEG’s Management Board.
Better access to goods in rural areas and financial inclusion
The importance of digital commerce was demonstrated during the Covid pandemic when Copia rapidly grew its customer base and revenues. The company currently supplies more than a million people with affordable everyday items, such as household products, medicines, electronic goods and simple tools.
Over the past year, Copia has expanded its offering to include integrated FinTech services, such as operating loans for Copia Agents, which the company manages through a digital channel. There are also plans for regional expansion: launched in Kenya in 2013, Copia now operates throughout Kenya and Uganda, with more countries to follow. Further jobs will be created and local income generated as the company expands.
Tim Steel, CEO of Copia Global, adds: “We are delighted to have DEG supporting Copia through this period of massive growth, particularly as we expand our FinTech services for this vastly underserved middle-income African consumer market.”
DEG previously provided Copia with funds under the “Up-Scaling” programme in 2018, enabling the company to build its last-mile delivery system and technology infrastructure. This DEG-funded programme can be used to support innovative pioneering investments in developing countries that are in the start-up phase. The DEG funding is to be repaid if the investment is successful.
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