Knuru Capital leads US$21m investment in Africa Focused Classifieds Platform, Jiji

AFRICA – Jiji, an African-focused digital classifieds business has raised $21 million in Series C and C-1 funding led by Knuru Capital.

The Nigeria based venture, co-founded by Ukrainian entrepreneur Vladimir Mnogoletniy, has a presence in Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.

“We are the largest marketplace in Africa where people can sell pretty much anything…We are like a combination of eBay and Craigslist for Africa,” Mnogoletniy said.

As per the company statistics, the classifieds site has two million listings on its Africa platforms and hit eight million unique monthly users in 2018.

To further bolster its operations in Africa, Jiji bought up one of its competitors, OLX in April this year and  acquired the assets of the Naspers owned online marketplace in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Jiji’s top three categories for revenues and listings (in order) are vehicle sales, real estate, and electronics sales (namely mobile phones).

With the recent funding, the company’s total capital raised from 2014 to 2019 amounts to US$50 million.

Jiji plans to use the latest investment toward initiatives to increase the overall number of buyers, sellers, and transactions on its site.

The company will also upgrade the platform to create more listings and faster matching in the area of real-estate, according to Mnogoletniy.

For the moment, Jiji doesn’t have plans for country expansion or company purchases.

“Maybe at some point, we will consider more acquisitions, but for the time being we’d like to focus on those five markets,” Mnogoletniy said — referring to Jiji’s existing African country presence.

To ensure the quality of listings, particularly in real-estate, Jiji employs an automated and manual verification process.

“We were able to eliminate a high percentage of fraud listings and estimate fraud listings at less than 1%,” said Mnogoletniy.

He recognized the challenge of online scams originating in Nigeria.

“We take data protection very seriously. We have a data-control officer just to do the data-protection verification.”

With the large consumer base and volume of transactional activity on its platform, Jiji could layer on services, such as finance and payments.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions about adding segments other than our main business.

We decided that for the next three to five years, we should be laser-focused on our core business — to be the largest marketplace in Africa for buying and selling to over 400 million people,” Mnogoletniy said.

Knuru Capital CEO Alain Dib confirmed the Abu Dhabi based fund’s lead on Jiji’s most recent round.

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