(Co-founders: Miano Njoka, far left, and Kagure Wamunyu, centre)
African supply chains are notoriously problematic and fragmented, creating barriers for consistent supply of goods to the end consumer. These challenges have contributed to the meteoric rise of B2B tech startups tackling value chains such as FMCG goods (MarketForce) and restaurant supplies (TopUp Mama). However, an area that is seemingly untapped is that of construction materials – a historically traditional sector.
In the developing world, Africa has experienced the highest urban growth during the last two decades at close to 4% per year, with this growth rate expected to hold through to at least 2050. Furthermore, over 90% of this population growth will be accounted for by the large cities in developing countries, as shown by Africa’s 44% urbanisation rate in 2021. This would mean the growth of real estate and increased demand for housing and commercial centres. With this growth comes the need for more organised and efficient construction industry to service it.
The reality though is that the construction market is still largely manual and opaque, with access to construction materials inconsistent and expensive. Specifically, local hardware stores (think neighbourhood corner stores) don’t have the distribution scale and cash flow to supply their local construction industry sufficiently and efficiently.
The lack of innovation in the space is surprising given the substantive market opportunity. Construction is a significant contributor to the GDP in most African countries, representing 7% in Kenya, 14% in Tanzania, and 12% in Uganda – with materials making up 70% of the costs therein; yet construction remains one of the least disrupted industries by tech both globally – and even more so – on the African continent.
The Future: Jumba
Jumba is increasing access to construction materials for small hardware stores through digitization of the supply chain. Specifically, Jumba’s solution manages transactions between suppliers known as ‘aggregators’ (think large, formal hardware stores) and smaller neighbourhood hardware stores. Effectively, Jumba works with the aggregators to stock enough supply to serve a host of surrounding neighbourhood stores quickly and cost-efficiently. These stores then order as needed from Jumba (usually) on credit, which is then fulfilled timeously through the aggregator store.
“On the continent, ‘the supply side’ typically forms the bottleneck for stakeholders across various B2B verticals, and construction is no different. We believe Jumba has the potential to alleviate such supply chain inefficiencies, allowing micro-construction businesses the on-demand access they need to best serve their customers” — Luke Mostert, Head of Investments at Future Africa.
Jumba’s strong founding team brings a combined 12 years of working in the African tech ecosystem and engineering experience from both leading African startups and Fortune 100 companies:
Kagure Wamunyu (Co-founder & CEO) has 5 years of leadership and scaling experience at Uber Kenya, where she served as the Country Manager, as well as at Kobo360, where she served as the Chief Strategy Officer and Global Head of Operations.
"We chose to partner with Future Africa because of their strong understanding and belief in the opportunities and founders in Africa. Additionally, their wide network reach within the continent is helpful for startups as they build and grow" — Kagure Wamunyu.
Her co-founder, Miano Njoka (Co-founder & CTO), has 7 years of engineering leadership experience at Google, where he led ecosystem integrations for Google Assistant into companies such as Best Buy and Lenovo. Prior to Google, Miano was a Software Engineer for the United Nations.
“We believe the Jumba founding team is well balanced, with Kagure’s strong understanding of African logistics and supply chains dovetailing aptly with Miano’s robust technical background – a combination that should allow Jumba to build the tools needed to scale” — Mia von Koschitzky-Kimani, General Partner at Future Africa.
As Jumba scales, we see ample opportunities for growth and innovation in the construction space. Jumba already has plans to have banks supporting construction materials financing through the platform on a project-by-project basis. This will reduce the lender’s risk as funds are utilised directly for construction materials, transparently for all stakeholders. Additionally, the startup aims to drive pricing towards economies of scale through materials acquisition of their own, aiding both the price and reliability of the materials. Finally, Jumba also plans to introduce a buy now, pay later option to allow their best-performing clients to broaden their stock and increase earnings. And all this is just the beginning.
At Future Africa, we are excited to be a part of Jumba’s journey to transform the African construction materials supply chain. We welcome Jumba’s team to the Future Africa community.