Less than a year after launch, Kenyan B2B construction tech startup Jumba has secured clients in major regions of the East African country, a tell-tale of the growth it has experienced over the last 10 months.
Jumba, which enables construction material retailers (regarded as hardware stores locally), found on almost every block, to restock, and real estate developers to access the supplies they need for their projects, claims to have recorded three times quarterly growth at the close of last year.
Co-founder and CEO Kagure Wamunyu told TechCrunch that the startup, currently covering 60% of Kenya’s 47 counties, is scaling its operations in the country to keep up with the growing demand of construction materials, buoyed by $4.5 million funding it has secured in a seed round.
The round was led by LocalGlobe, with participation from Enza Capital, which led its $1 million pre-seed round last year, Foundamental, Seedstars International Ventures, Logos Ventures, Speedinvest, First Check Africa and Alumni Angel Network.
“We are growing very fast, and our problem has always been that we have way more demand than we can meet,” said Wamunyu.
“Most of our customers are in counties beyond the capital, Nairobi, and the reason is that manufacturing is centralized in Nairobi, but customers are located throughout the country, and that is where we come in because we help with distribution,” she said.
Co-founded with Miano Njoka (CTO), Jumba started out by serving retailers but afterwards began supplying construction materials to developers, which Wamunyu says was informed by demand.
“We realized that the need is not only with the hardware stores, it's also with the developers because they were also requesting the products from us,” she said.
Jumba simplifies the sourcing of construction materials through a common marketplace for retailers and developers, that takes away the headache of dealing with multiple suppliers.
Customers access products through its web platform but its team of sales associates in the different counties help with client sourcing too. Jumba then negotiates discounted prices (plus their markup) with manufacturers.
“Ours is a one-stop shop, we manage the sourcing, and logistics headache. By using our platform, they also have access to their documents and invoices, for them to reconcile,” said Wamunyu, a civil engineer and contractor, who in the past also helped Uber and Kobo360 scale their services in Africa.
“We run in-house logistics as one of the ways we create efficiencies to deliver for people in a way that is not so expensive for them to access goods.”
The startup is also solving the financing headache for retailers through short-term financing backed by its bank partners, with plans underway to avail long-term credit to developers too.
“Retailers can access financing through services like buy-now-pay-later from our bank partners. Construction sites will also have the ability to get the materials to complete the works in the near future," said Wamunyu, adding that, “We put a lot of emphasis on understanding the customer, and what they need, their pain points, and then tailor our products to fit them. We are doing this so that we can unlock access, and cash flow.”
Jumba is tapping the construction industry in Kenya, which is expected to continue to grow sustained by mega infrastructure projects. Besides, Wamunyu says she is inspired to continue solving the challenges in the sector, in the hope of bridging the housing deficit in Kenya, which is at 80%.
“With our B2B marketplace our vision still remains verticalization in construction, and solving the problems in the sector. Kenya will remain our core market, the opportunity is massive here. We plan to scale in this market to acquire more customers before we explore the next market,” she said.