Kenya-based startup, Kibanda TopUp, raises $460k pre-seed

by | Jun 3, 2021

Kibanda TopUp, a Kenyan startup which aims at digitising the food supply chain for micro, small, and medium restaurants in Africa has closed a $460k pre-seed round to increase its customer base.

The round was led by US-based JAM Fund, with the participation of mPharma’s CEO, Gregory Rockson; Flutterwave’s CEO, Olugbenga GB Agboola; Alarko Ventures’ Managing Partner, Cem Garih; and several angel investors.

The involvement of local investors like Rockson and Agboola continues a growing trend of African investment in early-stage startups. 

Launched in February 2021 by Co-founders, Njavwa Mutambo and Emilie Blauwhoff, Kibanda delivers goods directly to restaurants via electric tricycles assembled in Nairobi by its partner, ARC Ride.

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Customers can order inventory such as grains, beverages, poultry, and beef via app or SMS and receive their order the next day.

Since launch, the startup has reportedly served 130 restaurants — announcing restaurant 100 on May 31, 2021 — and plans to use the funding to hire critical team members in engineering and supply chain who will enable fast growth and development of additional products. 

In a recent interview with the Tony Elumelu Foundation of which he is an alumnus, Mutambo revealed plans to expand to Lagos.

“We are increasing restaurants’ contributions to Africa’s GDP by helping reduce cost with the supply chain. We are doubling down on our efforts in Kenya and our next location is Lagos – the reason being that we have to be where the majority of restaurants are, and Nigeria has a large number of these informal restaurants.” says Mutambo

Kibanda faces the problem of solving issues around logistics and transport. To address the challenge of transportation costs, the company uses electric tricycles Kenya leading to a reduction in cost by 25%.

With plans to expand into other countries, this might pose a challenge of scalability especially in countries where it might not be able to use this to its advantage.

Mutambo is an experienced hand in the logistics space having served as CEO of Musanga Logistics — a Zambia-based Software as a Service (SaaS) platform connecting shippers and carriers in real time — and Global Lead for Product Operations at Lori Systems — an e-logistics company in Kenya.

Based on Blauwhoff’s skills in entrepreneurial digital strategy and project management, and Mutambo’s experience in logistics, Rockson expresses confidence in the founders’ vision.

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“Local informal restaurants are the heart of social commerce in African neighbourhoods. Kibanda TopUp has a great opportunity to drive a transformation of these businesses into a formal restaurant cooperative to maximise the economic potential. I am excited about the team behind this journey as they have the right experience and intent to build a huge business,” says Rockson

Writer, Humanoid, Forever she/her, Lover of words.

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