Someone once remarked that there are 30 million ‘mom and pop stores’ in Nigeria with the potential of being digitised.
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Research also indicates that about 90% of commerce in Africa’s major economies are executed via informal channels such as traditional markets, kiosks and so on. Not much has been done to Digitise or automate this vast volume that occurs daily.
Meanwhile, Omnibiz, a Lagos-based startup, has raised a new $3 million seed round to expand into new markets by taking the informal market into a digital format by smartly digitising it.
It is to further this goal of helping Nigerian and African small businesses to grow that V&R Africa, Timon Capital and Tangerine Insurance are jointly leading Omnibiz’s seed round. Also joining them is Lofty Inc., Musha Ventures, Sunu Capital, Launch Africa, and Rising Tide Africa which takes the company’s total investment to $4 million.
Founded in 2019 by Deepankar Rustagi, Omnibiz grew from VConnect which started in 2011 as an online marketplace and search engine to find local professionals for service needs. Before shutting down in 2017, the platform had over 500,000 listed businesses all over Nigeria while also connecting thousands of individuals with varying business services.
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Rustagi assured that Omnibiz will be building on the learning it has acquired as Vconnect served businesses all over the country.
With Omnibiz, these distributors can focus solely on warehousing and pass on the responsibility of transporting goods to Omnibiz’s third-party logistics providers. The drivers of these logistics providers use Omnibiz to efficiently distribute the orders to the retailers within 24 hours.
Therefore, when retailers order on the Omnibiz platform, the request is forwarded to partner distributors who warehouse goods for manufacturers to process it. Hence, the company operates an asset-light and cost-light retail distribution model.
Omnibiz CEO has also revealed that they are ready to work with manufacturers to provide visibility for them too by creating partner hubs for warehousing and distributing their products while also connecting them with third-party logistics drivers.
The main work of digitising the value chain rests on helping retailers save working capital while Omnibiz connects them with established Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) manufacturers. Dealing with enterprises catering to food, non-alcoholic beverages, personal care, and baby care sellers in the value chain is a top priority on the Omnibiz digitisation plan.
Omnibiz has said it will not take up the responsibility of managing the end-to-end digitisation process; it rather focuses on an asset-light model that helps distributors expand their reach rather than eliminate them.
The Omnibiz platform will offer a mobile app, WhatsApp channel and a phone number that retailers can make use of whenever they want to stock their shops. Retailers will be able to place orders at their convenience and have the goods delivered to their doorstep at little cost.
According to Rustagi, Omnibiz currently operates in four cities across Nigeria — Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Kaduna – with plans to add Ibadan and Kano cities before the end of August.
In the next few months, Omnibiz has assured that it will be using the investment to expand into other viable cities in West Africa including Abidjan, Takoradi, Kumasi and Accra.
Featured Image Source: Omnibiz
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