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New social commerce startup Kapu launches in Kenya with aim to drive cost saving

KENYA – Former Jumia executive, Sam Chappattea, has officially launched a new e-commerce platform dubbed “Kapu” that enables Kenyans to buy groceries at lower prices, through online and offline channels.

With the aim of lessening the burden of buying food for Kenyan consumers, many of whom are grappling with the sky-rocketing food prices, the new platform avails a wide range of products at wholesale prices and offers free next day delivery.

By sourcing directly from manufacturers and producers, Kapu creates a low-cost logistics model & minimal food waste and also allows group bulk-buying of groceries, helping clients save up 30% of the spend on fresh produce and packaged consumer goods.

To use the service, consumers order through their local Kapu agent and soon directly on WhatsApp. Orders placed before 9pm are delivered the next day for free to a local Agent.

Speaking during the launch, Kapu CEO Sam Chappatte said, “We think it’s unfair that consumers in Kenya spend 40% of their income on food, when Americans spend 6%. This is a huge blocker to social mobility.

“Our goal at Kapu is to build the most relevant model of e-commerce for the majority of urban consumers in Africa. By working with existing community groups & local entrepreneurs, we believe we can play a part in reducing the costs of goods, and unlocking opportunities for millions of people”.

Kapu started its operations earlier this year and currently has more than 1,500 Kapu Agent Collection Centers in Nairobi.

They are branded & easily identifiable in areas like Eastlands, Kasarani, Kawangware, South B, Kibra, Embakasi, Githurai and Kiambu.

Kapu agents, usually positioned within residential areas, takes customers’ orders, and makes deliveries the next day. The company plans to open up access to its services across Nairobi by March 2023.

To finance its expansion, the social commerce startup has raised US$8 million seed funding in a round co-led by Giant Ventures and Firstminute Capital, with participation from Founder Collective, Base Capital, Norrsken (Klarna co-founder Niklas Adalberth’s fund) and Raven One. They join Kapu’s early backers, including India’s Meesho and Brazil’s Facily co-founders, and a number of African family offices, Twitter’s Biz Stone, Supercell’s Ilkka Paananen, Tom Blomfield of Monzo and serial entrepreneur Alexander Rittweger.

Sam Endacott, partner at Firstminute capital, said in a statement, “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.”

Kapu said the offline channel (through agents) and online direct to consumer (via WhatsApp) models are designed to suit the Kenyan market, where e-commerce has not taken off but social commerce is showing signs of potential.

Kenya is said to have one of the highest percentages of monthly WhatsApp users in the world, according to Global Web Index’s 2020 Social Media User Trends Report — happening as the popularity of the social commerce sector surges in the region as the shift toward online shopping continues post Covid pandemic.

Kapu joins the growing list of startups that are digitizing the informal retail sector in Kenya, including Tushop, which launched last year. Kapu and Tushop are both enabling group buying of food supplies through agents and WhatsApp

Jay Ndungu

Jay is a computer scientist and journalist with a passion for the intersection of technology and society. He has a background in computer science, developing a deep understanding of the technical aspects of the industry, including programming languages and software development methodologies. Currently, He writes for Nairobi Times, covering a wide range of topics including technology, politics, sports, and entertainment. With his unique combination of technical knowledge and journalistic experience, Jay brings a unique perspective to the stories he covers, able to explain complex technical concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. His work is dedicated to bridge the gap between technology and society, and to make people more aware of the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

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