Moko, Kenyan furniture startup, raises $6.5M • TechCrunch

Kenya has the largest and most prosperous furniture industry in East Africa, but the sector’s potential is hampered by a number of challenges, including production efficiency and quality concerns that have forced most major retailers to rely on imports.

Moko Home + Living, a Kenya-based furniture manufacturer and omnichannel retailer, sees this gap and plans to bridge it with quality and warranties over the years. The company is eyeing its next phase of growth following a $6.5 million series of debt equity financing led by US-based investment fund Talenton and Swiss investor Alfamundi Group.

Novastar Ventures and Blink CV, which co-led the company’s Series A round, also made series investments. Victoria Commercial Bank of Kenya offers $3 million in debt financing, $1 million in mezzanine financing – debt that can be converted into equity.

“We entered this market because we saw a real opportunity to guarantee and provide quality furniture. We want to bring convenience to our customers by making it easy to buy furniture, which is the biggest asset for most families in Kenya,” Eric Kuskalis, managing director of Moco, who co-founded the startup with Fiorenzo Conte, told TechCrunch.

MoKo was founded in It was founded in 2014, initially as Watervale Investments Limited, an entity that sought to fix raw material supply issues for furniture manufacturers. However, in the year In 2017, it started piloting its first consumer product (mattress), and a year later launched the MoKo Home + Living brand for the mass market.

The startup has grown fivefold in the last three years and its products are now available in over 370,000 homes in Kenya. It hopes to sell millions of homes in the next few years, expanding its production and growing its product line. The most popular among the current products is the MoKo mattress.

“We plan to offer every major piece of furniture in a typical home – bed frame, TV stand, coffee table, carpet. We are also developing more value-added products in existing product categories – sofas and mattresses,” Kuskalis said.

A digital-first brand

MoKo plans to use the funds to leverage its online channels to increase its growth and presence in Kenya, and forge additional partnerships with retailers and distributors to increase offline sales. He plans to buy more equipment.

Moco is using digital technology in its product line, investing in “equipment that our engineers can take complex woodworking designs and execute them precisely in seconds.” This allowed the team to work efficiently and increase production, they said. “Automated recycling technology and software that calculates balanced use of raw materials” helped them cut waste.

“We were impressed with Moko’s climate-friendly local production capabilities. The company is a leading innovator in the industry because they have turned sustainability into a remarkable business advantage. Every step they take on this front not only protects the environment, but also improves the sustainability or affordability of what Moco offers to its customers,” said Miriam Attuya of Alfa Mundi Group.

Moco plans to enter three new markets by 2025 and reach more customers as demand for furniture on the continent grows, driven by population growth, urbanization and rising purchasing power.

“The potential for growth excites us. There is still a lot of room to better serve the millions of families in Kenya. This is just the beginning – Moko’s model is appropriate for most African markets, where families face similar obstacles in creating comfortable and welcoming homes,” said Kuskalis.

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