Zendaya Raises Funding to Grow Africa-Focused Luxury E-Commerce Platform • TechCrunch


They are among the most sought-after — if not the most — fashion items on many e-commerce platforms. For example, fashion in Africa has been Jumia’s top selling item category for years. This means there is no shortage of demand for fashion items on the continent, and the supply is picking up steam even in the high-end categories.

The luxury goods market in Africa and the Middle East It was worth more than $35 billion in 2019, with designer apparel and footwear generating more than $7 billion in retail sales alone. Behind such transactions is cross-border trade, where African brands export their goods to a global audience through private consumers. The most striking situation is the opposite: in this case, African consumers receive help from family and friends in the US and UK to buy and ship luxury goods.

While the overall e-commerce activities between African consumers and global brands have occurred informally through long-standing relationships, many platforms have used technology to centralize these processes across different marketing brackets. Jendaya, a one-year-old startup that serves as a gateway to the African continent for global luxury brands and consumers from the rest of the world to discover African brands, is coming undercover after raising £1 million (~$1.2 million). ) with pre-seed funding.

The London-based but Africa-focused platform was founded by CEO Ayotunde Rufai, who had the idea to start Jendaya after working as a personal shopper in England for relatives back in Nigeria. Other co-founders are COO Kemi Adetu, CCO Teni Sagoe, and CSO David Eleeku; Splitting across London, New York and Lagos, Zendaya kicks off in December 2021.

“We wanted to create a platform where Africans on the continent want Gucci loafers or Bottega bags, they don’t have to jump through hoops or wait a month or a few weeks because they can have that in hand in some days. Or a week, so that’s why we started Zendaya,” Ruffa told TechCrunch. He said on the call.

From apparel to beauty and home decor to accessories, the e-commerce platform is connecting African and African Diaspora luxury brands to global high-end consumers and African consumers to global brands. According to a statement shared by the company, it wants to shine a light on the talent and stories that emanate from the region, placing African names seamlessly in the same league as Western labels such as Issey Miyake, Lanvin and Givenchy.

“Jendaya is a luxury e-commerce platform for the global citizen – Africa includes being the most important part because the African citizen is very global, they are big city, well traveled and exposed, tastemakers,” he said. The regular Zendaya consumer. “So what these customers want is not just the orange culture, they want to mix the orange culture with Versace. Bottega wants to join the ranks of Valero and Casablancas and other new brands coming out around the world. This is how these consumers judge our brand offerings.

With an ethos that supports slow fashion, artisan, made-to-order luxury goods and emerging talent, Jendaya hosts Brooklyn-based small accessories brand Marti Moto and other brands that incorporate heritage into a modern context, such as Kenya. Brand name Adele Dejak. Other popular brands include Benin-French silk shirt label Aledjo and new names like Casablanca, founded by Moroccan designer Charaf Tajer, a 2020 LVMH Prize finalist.

Partnering with DHL and riding on the logistics giant’s brand name and extensive network, Zendaya ships these designer offerings to customers worldwide from Africa, Asia, UK, USA and Europe. So far, Jendaya has mostly seen markets from the UK, Nigeria, Ghana and the US, representing the most affluent black and diaspora neighborhoods.

The e-commerce startup of the year has processed nearly 300 orders since its launch 13 months ago. Meanwhile, the average order value per shopping cart is $350, less than a third of the benchmark—typically $750 to $1,500—recorded by mainstream luxury e-commerce stores, Rufafa says. “Customers are warming to the platform, and selling luxury online is a different ball game. You have to build credibility, you have to build trust, and consumers have to consistently know about the platform and the brands we have,” the CEO said of Zendaya’s command value compared to offline stores.

While the London-based luxury e-commerce platform offers up to 70 brands in an invite-only pilot and direct tie-ups with multi-brand boutique partners, it plans to double that this year. By doing so, Jendaya hopes to introduce more African luxury designers to the global stage and strengthen the luxury e-commerce business on the continent.

Alongside the e-commerce product, the platform’s B2B offerings have seen revenue of up to $100,000. There is a Zendaya editorial featuring key historical and current news that aims to inspire not only the brands stocked on the platform, but a global audience. And Jendaya Labs, the startup’s creative agency, counts Casablanca, Oswald Boateng, Paul Smith and Burberry as clients to name a few. In this regard, Jendaya differs from other large Afrocentric fashion e-commerce platforms such as ANKA, which specializes in luxury goods. It is for Afrikam international brands,” added the CEO.

Investors in Zendaya’s pre-seed round include Sabi CEO Anu Adoyin Addasolom and several angel investors. The startup has received funding from Ada VC, Culture Capital, actress Maisie Williams and music celebrities Bizzle Osikoya and Asa Asika.


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