South Africa: uAfrica.com secures growth funding

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Local e-commerce group uAfrica.com has secured $1.5 million in funding, which it will use to expand quickly, bolstering its presence in Africa.

uAfrica.com secured the funding from bidorbuy.co.za – which also takes up a significant stake in the e-commerce group – as well as from its MD, Andy Higgins. The company has been operating in the e-commerce space since 2004 and was originally best known for building the online price comparison engine, jump.co.za.

The funding was raised to allow the entity to "grow quickly", it says. The cash will be spent on hiring additional staff, mostly in the development space, as well as funding its expansion plans into the rest of Africa, and on sales and marketing.

uAfrica plans to enable a minimum of 2 000 South African small and medium enterprises in the e-commerce space over the next 18 months. Its site offers businesses portals through which to sell products into Africa, starting from R149 a month, and it is also an accredited co.za domain name registrar.

The company says it also wants to double its staff complement to 12 within the next six months. Higgins, who was founder and former MD of bidorbuy.co.za, says South African companies have been benefiting from foreign investment over the past two years.

Higgins joined Jump Shopping in 2012, after which the company rebranded as Africa.com to facilitate a broader focus on all aspects of e-commerce.

"Too often international products offer services that aren't always applicable to a very local audience – we plan to shift the paradigm as we take international best practices and add relevant localisation, giving merchants and consumers the best of both worlds," says Higgins.

Jaco Jonker, CEO of bidorbuy.co.za, says its partnership was uAfrica was a move to help deliver specialised services, including multiple channels, to online retailers. "This is also fundamental to the future e-commerce growth within the bidorbuy channel."