Kenya’s construction industry is so big it’s among the few in the world to have grown amid the 2020 Covid lockdowns. And it shows no signs of slowing down with the country’s data agency – the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics – which forecasts that it will grow at an average rate of 6.1% over the next three years.
And while much of this growth is attributable to government-planned megaprojects, the growth of real estate, driven by an ever-increasing demand for housing, is another precursor to transformation. Yet the construction industry in Kenya remains extremely rudimentary, with almost all supplies, even by dealers, being purchased physically.
Jumba, a b2b construction technology platform launched in April this year, aims to fill this gap with an online platform that enables operators of hardware stores (retailers of building materials), found in almost all blocks, to replenish seamlessly.
The startup is now poised for big growth after securing $1 million in pre-seed funding to refine its technology and expand its reach to capture Kenya’s major city markets.
“We started expanding our products based on regional demands and hardware store needs. The idea is to make Jumba the source of all building materials in Kenya and, when we eventually grow, beyond its borders,” Jumba CEO Kagure Wamunyu, who co-founded the startup, told TechCrunch. with Miano Njoka (CTO).
The pre-seed round was led by Enza Capital with participation from Seedstars International Ventures, Chandaria Capital, Future Africa, Logos Ventures, First Check Africa and a number of angel investors.
Enza Capital Managing Partner Mike Mompi said, “African populations are rapidly growing and increasingly urbanizing, and the construction industry is a critical economic driver supporting sustainable growth across the continent. ‘Africa. In a $10 trillion industry yet to be reshaped by technology, we are thrilled to support Kagure and the exceptional team at Jumba.
Wamunyu said the launch of Jumba was inspired by her experiences as a real estate entrepreneur, where she always faced inefficiencies in purchasing building materials, due to fluctuating prices and random stock-outs. Wamunyu, a civil engineer and entrepreneur, who helped Uber roll out its services in Kenya, was also part of the team that propelled Kobo360, a logistics technology startup to Africa-wide expansion. Njoka, her co-founder, is a software engineer who had previously co-invested with her in real estate projects.
As Jumba connects manufacturers to retailers, Wamunyu said the startup will also ensure that small hardware stores (which don’t have enough storage) will be connected to medium ones near their regions from where they can easily update. their inventories, removing the pressure of space expansion.
“We will partner with different retailers in different neighborhoods who can then support the smaller ones, instead of working with a warehouse model. We will supply those big players and the smaller hardware stores will pick their stock from those locations,” she said.
Jumba negotiates the prices (including their markup) of the products with the manufacturers. It also allows resellers to pay for orders on delivery. Wamunyu says they are also planning to introduce the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) option to allow their top performing customers to expand their inventory and increase their income.
“BNPL can be used to help them stock more, and it’s a product that will be introduced but it will be built on the back of the reseller’s order history,” Wamunyu said.
For a quick take off, Jumba hired Peace Osangir to lead the finance and risk component of the startup as CFO. Osangir previously worked as COO of Kopo Kopo, a payments company, and was the first CFO of Kenya’s leading mobile lender, Mshwari, which is backed by East Africa’s largest telecom Safaricom and bank NCBA regional.
Wamunyu told TechCrunch that the startup is currently onboarding manufacturers and hardware stores outside of Nairobi as well, to grow its pool of suppliers and resellers.