Limited physical retail infrastructure in rural East Africa makes it difficult for many low- and middle-income families to purchase essential household goods without traveling long distances. Online retail is also limited since many families lack either connectivity via smart phones, financial payment solutions such as credit or debit cards, or live in remote regions where delivery is challenging. Supply chain disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have compounded these challenges.
Solution and Impact
DFC has invested $10 million in equity in Copia Global, Inc., a nine-year-old e-commerce startup, to help it expand its online retail model with an emphasis on reaching the mass market consumer in Africa. DFC’s equity investment helped mobilize over $40 million of additional third-party capital to support Copia’s growth.
Copia employs a network of more than 38,000 sales agents, 81 percent of whom are women, to assist local consumers in placing their orders, which earns them a commission. Often these agents are local shop owners who provide a secure place where products are received from suppliers and then picked up by Copia’s customers. Today, Copia serves more than 450,000 customers a month across Kenya and Uganda, filling orders for basic food, personal care items, furniture, appliances, diapers, solar panels, home improvement products, and more.
Copia will use the DFC equity investment to expand and further digitize its business in Kenya, Uganda, and other markets in Africa.
“DFC equity can be used to support new and growing businesses that don’t have the operating history or asset base to access debt. We are excited to focus on businesses like Copia that are providing a much needed basic service to their customers while also creating jobs and improving access to logistics in Africa."
- Lauren Cochran, DFC Vice President, Office of Equity and Investment Funds