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SA VC firm HAVAÍC buys into Nigeria’s ShopEx with US$400k investment

The ShopEx team.
The ShopEx team.

Cape Town-headquartered venture capital firm HAVAÍC has confirmed a first-round investment of US$400,000 in Nigerian omni-channel direct-to-consumer retailer, ShopEx.

According to the VC, the initial investment is sourced from its US$20-million HAVAÍC Universum Core African Fund, and is part of a US$625,000 convertible note round alongside existing angel investors.

ShopEx’s business model is based on a combination of traditional and digital channels to market, sell, and distribute global brands in Nigeria and across Africa.

ShopEx CEO Isi Abebe.
ShopEx CEO Isi Abebe.

Founded by CEO Isi Abebe and advised by Expert Media Partners (EMP), ShopEx digitises and integrates the customer journey across numerous channels or platforms, from television to Instagram, to improve customer engagement and sales conversions.

According to the company, integrations with leading last-mile partners optimise the fulfilment process via a nationwide, 24-hour delivery service.

Across the board, the technology monitors revenue, media spend, sales agent data, inventory, customer engagement, transactions, fulfilment, and logistics in real-time.

Abebe said, "The launch of ShopEx perfectly coincides with rising e-commerce and maturing logistics and payment platforms across Africa. These are vital components for creating a truly omni-channel experience. We look forward to rolling out an exciting pipeline of new products and bolstering our technology to deliver an exceptional customer experience and expand our offering into other markets."

The company is targeting sustained growth by leveraging high mobile phone penetration rates and social media growth.

It said that over the past five years alone, e-commerce revenue grew by 250%. The figure is projected to rise a further 64% and top US$46-billion by 2025.

“In Nigeria, the business is ideally placed to meet the demand for quality globally-sourced products among the country’s fast-growing, young middle class,” ShopEx stated.

New markets

ShopEx plans to use the latest funding round to continue growing its team, brand, product agreements, inventory, and operations into new markets with Ghana already underway.

Ian Lessem, Managing Partner at HAVAÍC, said, “ShopEx has the experience and network to take advantage of arguably one of the most untapped retail opportunities in Africa. What’s more, their scalable technology means ShopEx can leverage off social media and key partnerships with the likes of MultiChoice, Jumia, and Alibaba to spearhead the growth of multi-channel shopping in the market.”

Marking the VC firm’s second pan-African fund, HAVAÍC announced the third and final close of its HAVAÍC Universum Core African Fund last month.

Now also counting its latest portfolio company in ShopEx, the fund has already deployed a third of its funds into early-stage African technology companies, including CrowdForce, CompariSure, Kuda, Mobiz, HearX, and Tanda, among others.

The fund is on track to complete up to 25 investments over the next three years, HAVAÍC added.

The announcement follows a strong performance for HAVAÍC in 2021. The VC firm’s portfolio companies now serve a combined five million customers in over 180 countries across the globe.

Last year, HAVAÍC’s portfolio companies raised US$110-million in fresh capital and increased revenue by 160%. To date, HAVAÍC has achieved three international exits, delivering annualised returns to its investors of 155%.

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