Wasoko, an African e-commerce company operating in the informal retail supply chain, has expanded into Zambia – the company’s first location in Southern Africa.
Wasoko, a pan-African B2B e-commerce company with a presence in East and West Africa, has kicked off operations in South Africa with the launch of operations in Zambia. The company will launch its operations in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and says it will invest $1 million in its first year to “support local Zambian businesses and communities to get more essential goods for less through the power of e-commerce”.
Wasoko, formerly Sokowatch, uses its platform to allow informal retailers to order products via SMS or its mobile app for free, same-day delivery, to their stores. The platform also provides retailers with credit offerings by leveraging purchasing history. It has been difficult to place a value on the informal retail market in Africa due to how fragmented and unorganised it is, but it is estimated to be worth between $600 billion and $1 trillion.
Wasoko will also pivot to a hub and spoke logistics network (a model that uses a large distribution centre to dispense inventory to multiple fulfilment centres) and will use Lusaka as the central hub for Zambia. The company says it is pivoting to this model to drive stronger operational efficiency and significantly boost its capacity for faster regional expansions.
According to the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA), there are 11.1 million active internet subscriptions in the country which translates to 56.8 per 100 inhabitants. Sharing why Wasoko will launch its South African presence in Zambia, Daniel Yu, the founder and CEO of Wasoko, said, “With high smartphone usage and a pro-business government administration keen on expanding the country’s digital economy, Zambia is an ideal environment to launch our model and strongly aligns with our current core markets, both in terms of similar regulatory practices and a supplier base which is intertwined with East Africa.”
In addition to its latest expansion, Wasoko will double its service radius across all of its existing locations in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda, where it says it has amassed a network of over 200,000 informal retailers and delivered more than 5 million orders to date.