Kenya’s construction industry is so large that it is one of the few in the world to have grown during the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the country’s data body, expects it to grow at a 6.1 percent annual rate during the next three years.
While the government’s planned megaprojects account for the majority of this expansion, real estate development, fueled by rising housing demand, is another prelude to transformation. Despite this, Kenya’s construction business remains primitive, with nearly all supplies being obtained physically, even by resellers.
Jumba, a b2b construction technology platform that began in April this year, aims to close this gap by providing an online platform that allows hardware store owners to resupply their stores easily.
The startup is now set for great growth after securing $1 million in pre-seed funding to fine-tune its technology and expand its reach to capture markets in major cities across Kenya.
“We have started to expand our products according to regional demands and the needs of hardware stores. The idea is to make Jumba the source of all construction materials in Kenya, when we eventually grow, beyond its borders, “Jumba’s CEO Kagure Wamunyu, who co-founded the startup with Miano Njoka (CTO), told TechCrunch.
Enza Capital led the pre-seed round with participation from Seedstars International Ventures, Chandaria Capital, Future Africa, Logos Ventures, First Check Africa, and a number of angel investors.
Enza Capital’s managing partner Mike Mompi said, “Africa’s populations are rapidly growing and increasingly urbanizing, and the construction industry is a core economic engine supporting sustainable growth Across Africa. In a $10 trillion industry yet to be reshaped by technology, we are thrilled to be backing Kagure and the exceptional team-building Jumba. ”
Wamunyu claimed the idea for Jumba came from her experiences as a real estate developer, when she had to deal with inefficiencies in the purchasing of building supplies due to shifting costs and sporadic stockouts. Wamunyu, a construction engineer and contractor who assisted Uber in launching its services in Kenya, was also part of the team that helped Kobo360, a logistics tech startup, expand across Africa. Her co-founder Njoka, a software engineer, had previously invested in real estate projects with her.
As Jumba connects manufacturers with retailers, Wamunyu said the startup will also ensure that the small hardware stores (which don’t have sufficient storage) will be connected to medium-sized ones near their regions, from where they can easily update their inventories, taking away the pressure for spatial 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 be supplying these big players, and the smaller hardware stores will be picking their stock from these locations,” she said.
Jumba negotiates prices (including their markup) of products with manufacturers. It also allows resellers to pay for orders on delivery. Wamunyu says that they are also considering introducing the buy-now-pay-later option (BNPL) to allow their best-performing clients to broaden their stock and increase their earnings.
“BNPL can be used to help them stock more, and it is a product that will be introduced but it will be built on the back of the reseller’s order history,” said Wamunyu.
Peace OsangirJumba’s CFO, has been engaged to handle the startup’s financial and risk components in order for it to take off quickly. Osangir was previously the COO of payments startup Kopo Kopo and the first finance manager of Mshwari, Kenya’s first mobile lender, which is supported by East Africa’s largest telco Safaricom and regional bank NCBA.
Wamunyu told TechCrunch that the company is currently onboarding manufacturers and hardware stores outside of Nairobi in order to expand its supplier and reseller base.