By Prince Osuagwu

NIGERIA-BASED e-commerce fulfillment platform, Sendbox, has completed a $1.8 million seed round to help African Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs digitise their delivery services.

Sendbox is a start-up solution provider  which aggregates logistics providers and help SMEs reduce the burden of engaging different logistic companies to deliver goods and services in diverse locations.

    The company also enables tracking for the logistic activities it initiated.

The round was from notable investors including 4DX Ventures, Enza Capital, FJLabs and Golden Palm Investments.

Flexport and YC Combinator also participated in the funding. The start-up company said that following a pre-seed round from Microtraction and 4DX Ventures in 2018, its total investment raised has now reached $2 million.

    The new funding, which is as part of its 2021 winter cohort, will be used to expand the company’s operations in other countries across West Africa, bolster the development of its product range, and hire new talents.

   CEO and Co-Founder of Sendbox, Emotu Balogun, said: “No matter where customers are in the world, we want African SMEs to be able to reach them. Deliveries in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Ibadan have made up a large proportion of the business for our domestic merchants. Also, affordable access to the UK, EU, US and Canada has created an opportunity to sell products to hundreds of millions of previously unreachable buyers.

   “With this fundraise our aim is to support more and more SMEs and help them grow both locally and internationally, scaling alongside them as we connect African merchants with a global community of consumers.”

  Co-Founder and General Partner at 4DX Ventures,Walter Baddoo also said: “African e-commerce is accelerating faster than anybody could have imagined a decade ago and it needs smart solutions to ensure that logistics and fulfilment capacity doesn’t lag behind,”,. “Not only were we impressed by Sendbox’s 300% year-on-year growth since launch, but we’re seeing the market potential balloon with over 40 million Nigerian SMEs and a projected industry value for social and e-commerce reaching $45 billion on the continent by 2025.” 

   Starting with logistics and fulfilment, Sendbox is building the operating system for e-commerce in Africa. Launched in 2018, the company provides affordable access to local and international delivery options for small-scale merchants selling on e-commerce and social media platforms.

Accessible to iOS and Android users, via web application, on Whatsapp,Facebook, Instagram and other e-commerce platforms, and through developer APIs, Sendbox is providing a single location to manage both local deliveries and international shipments to the EU, UK, US and Canada. 

Currently, over 10,000 Nigerian SMEs have sent 200,000 products through Sendbox, saving on average 30-40% per item by eliminating the need to work with separate logistics providers. Through its delivery management platform, which aggregates logistics providers and enables tracking, the company also offers a solution for merchants who lack the high volumes required to attract discounted delivery fees.

The next stage of the company’s growth will see a move towards financing & payments, followed by e-commerce & marketplace integrations across West Africa and then further afield.

As a sector-agnostic platform, Sendbox is available to sellers right across the spectrum, empowering designers, micro-manufacturers and entrepreneurs who produce their own goods and distribute them on behalf of others. In terms of products, Clothing, Fashion & Lifestyle, and Beauty & Self-Care have been most prominent since launch, while the company expects other categories to grow rapidly as SMEs continue to expand their customer bases.

Prolific mobile penetration on the continent, the rise of social media and knock-on impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic have shifted additional momentum towards e-commerce and social commerce, doubling monthly revenues for Sendbox since March 2020.

Made in Africa products are now in higher demand across local and international markets. With 200 million Instagram users and 1 million Instagram businesses in Nigeria alone, Sendbox is well positioned to serve this growing market and multiply its merchant count over the coming months. 

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