The informal retail sector in Nigeria is estimated to be worth $244 billion and includes over 41 million micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises. That’s 41 million businesses that need efficient platforms that can connect them to their prospects and existing customers and tools to help serve them best.

Sabi, a B2B marketplace providing these two essential needs – platforms and tools – for the informal trade sector, today announced a milestone: they have successfully on-boarded 150,000 small business owners onto its platform.

Sabi optimises Africa’s informal trade sector by providing merchants and resellers with business tools and services that help them reach new customers, improve cash flow, and streamline logistics. 

Sabi is a woman-led startup co-founded and run by CEO Anu Adasolum, former COO of Rensource and Ademola Adesina, founder and CEO of Rensource.

Sabi is focused on ensuring merchants have easy access to the services they need to grow their businesses. The company is accelerating the velocity of trade in this sector by curating a list of B2B solutions providers and consolidating them into a single network. 

On Sabi, merchants can manage their profiles conveniently via offline and online channels. They can access sales and inventory management tools, buy and sell products, track business performance, and access financing, all in one platform.

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“Sabi is alleviating critical bottlenecks that prevent informal businesses from growing.”  Adesina said in a statement. “We’re building a bridge between the last frontier of underserved small businesses and a range of innovative services and products that weren’t available until recently.” 

Stealth mode takes the cake, not all products need to be built publicly

If you haven’t read any news about Sabi prior to now, it’s because the company has been building and scaling under the radar.

Unlike B2C, most B2B startups don’t necessarily have to build in the public to drive product market fit. Once the customer base is defined, companies can continue to build and scale under the radar, silently capturing market share.

Stealth mode allows businesses to temporarily conceal their product, brand, or any aspect of the business. This helps them stay ahead of the game and prevent competition; and when competition eventually comes, it will be stiff. 

Sabi was developed and operated under Rensource and has been scaling in stealth mode since mid-2020, silently acquiring users and providing values. 

Despite being operational in Nigeria for under a year, Sabi merchants have recorded over $1.2 billion worth of sales via MyShop, its ERP tool, and are on track to transact over $80 million annualized on MerchBuy, its B2B marketplace, in 2021. 

Sabi claims to be working with over 10,000 agents operating across Nigeria that interface with new merchants and service providers across multiple business categories including agriculture, FMCG, electronics, and financial services.

Scaling in stealth mode and closing a seed round

Sabi recently closed a seed round and has backing from marquee investors including CRE Ventures, Janngo Capital, Atlantica Ventures, and Waarde Capital. 

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“Sabi is reaching an underserved yet vibrant market segment and is scaling quickly. The convenience, trust, and quality of our platform have been validated by our merchants and we look forward to onboarding more businesses as we continue to grow.” Adasolum said in a statement. 

Speaking on their investment in Sabi, Fatoumata Ba, Managing partner at Janngo Capital, said, “we invested in Sabi because the team has a deep understanding of the unique network dynamics of Africa’s informal sector and, more importantly, how to serve the sector at scale without losing the advantage of its decentralized nature.

Ba continues by saying even though Sabi has taken off in Nigeria, they (Janngo Cap) look forward to supporting the company as it continues to create platforms for informal merchants and agents to help them accelerate their business growth.

Sabi continues to grow its network across Nigeria as the platform brings on new merchants and service providers. 

The company says it recently established strategic partnerships that will allow it to expand its financial services offerings to include savings accounts and other complementary risk-mitigating financial products.

Exiting stealth mode with such a level of growth, there’s no doubt in what Sabi will do and achieve in public.

Damilare Dosunmu Author

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