African E-commerce Platform Maka Secures $2.65 Million in Pre-Seed Funding Round
Maka, an African fashion and beauty e-commerce platform, has successfully raised $2.65 million in a pre-seed funding round.
The investment was led by Pan-African venture capital firms 4DX Ventures and Janngo Capital. Notable contributions also came from Palm Drive Capital, Jonathan Shipman (angel investor and EVP founder), and executives from the prominent delivery platform Wolt.
Established in 2021 by co-founder and CEO Diana Owusu-Kyereko, Maka initially emerged as an interactive social commerce platform. The platform employs live try-on hauls, reviews, and user-generated content from both creators and customers to facilitate a scalable way for users to discover products tailored to their unique styles.
Owusu-Kyereko shared her motivation for founding Maka, expressing curiosity about the prevalent recommendation of shopping on platforms like ASOS and Instagram, or visiting high-end boutiques. Conducting extensive surveys in Ghana and Nigeria revealed that shopping was a challenging experience, highlighting a notable gap in the market.
According to the CEO, Instagram emerged as the "Wild Wild West" among various shopping methods, often requiring pre-payment with limited options for refunds or returns. On the other hand, traditional markets, while offering a personal touch, could be stressful, leading to a reliance on personal shoppers. Cross-border shopping from global platforms presented its own set of challenges related to payments and logistics.
Recognizing the complexities users faced, Owusu-Kyereko stated, "I saw that you had a problem with trust in the buying process. People had their horror stories about buying online. Then the other thing was that this aggregation of everybody’s needs in one place was also not there. And that’s what sparked Maka."
Maka's platform is designed to tackle two primary issues: the trust deficit in the buying process and the challenges creators face in monetizing their influence.
To address the trust element, Maka utilizes videos to connect users with trusted creators.
Acknowledging the effectiveness of videos in low-trust markets, the platform leverages this medium to convey information, drive conversion, and establish rapport between the user, the reviewer, and the buyer.
Tage Kene-Okafor / TechCrunch