The Gateway to Africa's Startup Ecosystem
The Gateway to Africa's Startup Ecosystem

12 East African Startup Companies Redefining Online Shopping and Retail to Watch

Like the rest of the continent, e-commerce has, in recent years, experienced tremendous growth and popular acceptance in East Africa. With widespread adoption in countries like Kenya and Tanzania, online shopping is fast becoming a norm among the populace.

This notable shift is heralded by the emergence of several innovative companies that are harnessing digital technology to facilitate online retailing and ecommerce. These startups provide solutions that enable businesses to take their shops online while helping buyers to find and purchase items via the Internet.

Here we’ll examine 12 businesses that are redefining and improving commerce through digital technology in East Africa.


Year Founded: 2022

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Kapu is a social commerce startup redefining and simplifying access to consumer goods in Kenya through online retailing. The B2C e-commerce service aims to help consumers access groceries easily and affordably in environments where such items are generally expensive.

Kapu offers a wide range of groceries and everyday essentials such as fresh farm produce, household items, and personal care products. The company combines online and offline channels to create a seamless consumer shopping experience. It also partners with local suppliers and manufacturers to source products directly, cutting out unnecessary intermediaries and making the final price of the products more affordable for customers.

Beyond making groceries more accessible for consumers, Kapu is also actively involved in community empowerment. It actively engages its user base and fosters a sense of collective ownership among its customers. Moreover, the startup’s success in securing significant funding support demonstrates investors’ confidence in its business model and potential for growth.


Year Founded: 2021

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Badili is a pioneering re-commerce company innovatively addressing the growing demand for affordable consumer electronics in Kenya. The company facilitates the trade of used and refurbished smartphones, offering a convenient and eco-friendly solution for both buyers and sellers.

Badili operates a digital marketplace primarily for the sale of pre-owned devices from various brands and models. There, consumers can sell their old phones or buy from those looking to sell.

In addition, Badili plays a crucial role in the business-to-business (B2B) sector by conducting trade-ins and buybacks on behalf of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and phone dealers.

By facilitating these transactions, Badili enables the integration of circular economy practices within the mobile industry. Through its re-commerce model, the startup is providing a cost-effective way for consumers to access smartphones and actively working towards reducing electronic waste and promoting sustainable consumption patterns.


Year Founded: 2021

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Duhqa is an innovative company delivering last-mile end-to-end supply chain & distribution technology for manufacturers, retailers, and individuals in East Africa. The startup streamlines the process of buying and selling for users, harnessing digital technology and ingenuity for the purpose.

Duhqa operates a business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform facilitating the retail distribution of FMCG, Cold Chain, and Pharmaceuticals products. As a marketplace, the platform connects manufacturers with retailers and vice versa while also providing a channel for individual sellers to reach a wider audience.

Duhqa’s comprehensive approach ensures that products can be efficiently distributed and made accessible to the end consumer seamlessly. By optimizing every stage of the distribution process, from order placement to delivery, the company enables faster, more cost-effective, and more reliable movement of goods.

In addition to streamlining the buying and selling process, Duhqa’s innovative approach to last-mile supply chain and distribution technology has also fostered growth and efficiency across various industries in East Africa.


Year Founded: 2021

Location: Nairobi

Tushop is an innovative social commerce company redefining retailing through group-buying solutions in Kenya. Primarily, the company enables users to participate in bulk-groceries purchases. This unique approach empowers individuals to leverage their social connections to facilitate the purchase of essential goods at lower prices.

Tushop operates a digital marketplace that facilitates its group-buying business model. The platform enables community members to pool their orders and access products at wholesale prices. Thus, it significantly reduces the cost of essential goods for the members.

Tushop’s model makes individuals active participants in the local economy. Moreover, the platform creates new opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs to emerge within the community, further boosting economic activity.

Essentially, Tushop acts as a catalyst for financial empowerment, allowing communities to elevate their livelihoods and improve their overall quality of life.


Year Founded: 2020

Location: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Ramani is a pioneering Software as a Service (SaaS) company transforming how e-commerce salespeople manage their businesses. Ramani provides a comprehensive suite of solutions designed to streamline inventory tracking, customer registration, and sales transaction recording for businesses.

Ramani’s software includes several functionalities, such as the ability to capture and analyze supply chain data. By having real-time visibility into their supply chain, it enables salespeople to make informed decisions, anticipate demand, and optimize their inventory levels.

In addition, Ramani’s software also facilitates customer registration, enabling salespeople to build and maintain a database of their clientele. Moreover, the digital infrastructure records sales transactions, providing users with accurate and transparent financial data.

Ramani is committed to building an ecosystem that connects brands, micro-distribution centers, and merchants through its supply chain management software. This ecosystem-driven approach not only benefits individual businesses but also enhances the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the supply chain.


Year Founded: 2020

Location: Dar es Salaam

Inalipa is a dynamic digital retail company redefining online shopping with its unique ecommerce solution. The startup provides customized services that streamline the retail experience for sellers and buyers, fostering growth and efficiency in digital commerce.

Inalipa operates a versatile platform designed to cater to the distinct needs of businesses and distributors. There it has curated a diverse array of stores and products where users can conveniently shop from multiple sellers and get everything with a single order. Inalipa’s focus on convenience enhances the shopping experience and increases the satisfaction and loyalty of customers.

Inalipa’s dedication to customization is a crucial driver of its success. By bridging the gap between buyers and sellers, the platform fosters collaboration and expands market reach for businesses. As the company continues to evolve and grow its services, it is poised to play an even more significant role in shaping the future of digital commerce.


Year Founded: 2022

Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Shemach is a Leading B2B company reinventing how small shops and informal retailers source inventory. The company empowers retailers with tools and solutions that enhance their efficiency and financial flexibility.

Shemach operates a consolidated B2B e-commerce platform that serves as a bridge, connecting Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) retailers with a vast network of suppliers across the country. In addition, Shemach also provides retailers access to finance and credit facilities that enable them to manage their cash flow more effectively, order products and maintain inventory without immediate financial burdens.

Through its B2B e-commerce platform, Shemach has created a digital ecosystem that fosters growth and efficiency in the retail sector in Ethiopia. By connecting retailers with a diverse network of suppliers, the platform expands market reach and unlocks new business opportunities for all stakeholders.


Year Founded: 2022

Location: Nairobi, Kenya 

Revivo is an innovative digital technology company developing solutions to facilitate operations for small repair shops in Kenya. The company enables electronics repair shops to easily get high-quality spare parts, tools, and device accessories.

Revivo operates an online infrastructure that serves as a one-stop marketplace for repair shops – giving them access to a wide range of products crucial to their repair services. It curates high-quality products from trusted suppliers, giving customers access to whatever they need.

Through the platform, it enables repair shops to find everything they need in one spot, streamlining their operations and enhancing their efficiency. This streamlined approach to sourcing device parts contributes to increased efficiency and productivity for repair shops, allowing them to focus more on serving their customers.


Year Founded: 2019

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

ShopZetu is a leading technology company enabling seamless digital retailing in Kenya. With a primary focus on the fashion industry, ShopZetu is transforming ecommerce and online shopping for consumers and retailers.

The company operates a digital infrastructure designed as a one-stop marketplace for fashion and trendy products. The platform houses an extensive collection of clothing and beauty items from numerous global and local brands, offering a diverse array of products to cater to the needs and preferences of its customers.

ShopZetu is fast becoming synonymous with convenience and accessibility to trendy and vogue fashion products. It allows customers to shop for all their clothing and beauty needs from the comfort of their homes.


Year Founded: 2021

Location: Kisumu, Kenya

Vutia is a B2B cosmetics distribution company facilitating better partnerships between beauty products brands and retailers. The company positions itself between top brands and the business customer, acting as a bridge connecting them.

Vutia operates an ecommerce website explicitly designed as a marketplace for cosmetic brands and retailers or end users who buy beauty items in bulk. The platform serves as a centralized location for retailers to find several different types and brands of beauty products. Thus, it helps them discover numerous options to cater to the unique needs and preferences of their customers. Similarly, cosmetic brands benefit from increased market reach, as they can connect with a broader audience of retailers they partner with via the platform.

Through its extensive network, user-friendly interface, and commitment to sustainability, Vutia has elevated the efficiency and collaboration within the cosmetics industry. Essentially, Vutia’s B2B cosmetics distribution company is redefining the landscape by providing an innovative digital marketplace that connects brands with retailers.

Elloe AI 

Year Founded: 2019

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Elloe AI is a Software-as-a-service solutions provider revolutionizing commerce and retail operations in Africa. The company develops advanced customer relationship and sales solutions for SMEs and ecommerce companies. 

The company’s flagship service is a conversational artificial intelligence solution for SMEs, retail outlets, and ecommerce businesses. Its digital infrastructure enables enterprises, particularly ones involved in commerce and retail, to customize the necessary tools to implement a robust conversational commerce outlet.

Its conversational commerce solutions include several functionalities for businesses. These include automated customer conversation, multiple payment processing channels, and programmable SMS and IVR.

Elloe AI’s solutions help online retail and ecommerce businesses to improve their customer relationship management, provide better services and increase customer satisfaction. Thus, the company is contributing to the growth of its client businesses.

Solutech Limited

Year Founded: 2014

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Solutech Limited is a technological innovation company empowering businesses through digital transformation. The startup specializes in delivering cutting-edge technology solutions to meet the unique needs and challenges of its clients, particularly retail businesses and ecommerce setups.

Its myriad services include end-to-end sales and operational visibility solutions, retail execution functionality for planning and executing retail audits, and an order management feature to facilitate order processing at all stages.

The company also provides logistics management services via its digital platform, enabling clients to manage order delivery and fulfillment.

With years of experience providing solutions for multiple businesses in different industries and markets, Solutech has made a significant impact in defining the digital commerce space in Kenya. The company deploys customer-centric solutions for its clients, thereby helping them increase value for the end buyers.

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