Kenyan E-Commerce Firm Founded In Silicon Valley Raises $2M From Dutch Impact Investor

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli

Copia, an e-commerce firm giving underserved people in rural areas access to goods they’d normally have to travel for, has raised a $2 million equity investment through Dutch impact investor Goodwell Investments.

The e-commerce platform was founded in Silicon Valley and is now based in Nairobi, with its business focused on Kenya’s rural communities, according to Ventureburn.

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A consumer goods catalog and delivery service, Copia says it plans to use the investment to increase its geographical footprint for low-income consumers in Kenya, with a view to expanding into other African countries.

Kenyan e-commerce firm with U.S. roots

Copia was founded in Silicon Valley by Tracey Turner and Jonathan Lewis in 2013, before its headquarters were transferred to Kenya.

Turner and Lewis are business executives with successful track records as social entrepreneurs, according to DignityCapital.

Turner, who previously lived in Kenya, was the founder of MicroPlace, a company which allowed non-accredited investors in the U.S. to make investments in microfinance funds that create positive social and economic impact, while earning a financial return.

Turner went on to sell MicroPlace to EBay, before founding Copia with Lewis.

Lewis is a social justice activist and social entrepreneur who founded social venture firm MCE Social Capital, and Opportunity Collaboration, an annual strategic business retreat for 450 senior level anti-poverty leaders from around the world.

Kenyan e-commerce firm
Copia is a Kenyan e-commerce firm that enables online shopping in rural communities. Image – AP – Denis Farrell

Copia uses technology combined with a network of over 3,000 local agents to deliver goods and services that benefit around 40,000 underserved consumers in rural parts of Kenya, making it the “Amazon of rural areas”, according to Techmoran.

People living in rural Kenya can only buy limited products at their local mini-market. Copia says it makes it possible for these shoppers to order online and have a wide variety of items delivered to them within days.

Copia processes around 80,000 orders a month, delivering goods and services to around 40,000 users, according to TechgistAfrica.

The investment from Goodwell will enable Copia to increase those numbers.

statement from the Dutch impact investor said Copia aligns with their strategy of giving more underserved people in the lowest income segments access to “better quality, more relevant and more affordable goods and service”.

Copia previously raised $4 million in funding during 2017 from various investors including Savannah Fund, DOB Equity, Data Collective DCVC and the Opes Impact Fund, according to Crunchbase.

That initial investment allowed the company to build the rural e-commerce network it has today, which covers around 28 percent of its potential Kenyan market, Techmoran reports.

The latest investment will give more users access to goods that would otherwise require travel to a major city like Nairobi or Mombasa.