Last year M-vendr, a UK based m-commerce company with a focus on African markets including Zimbabwe, released an Android App to enable vendors and micro traders in African markets to sell inventory. This looked like a significant step in the growth plan for the MVendr team.
Now, in a new development that has more significance on its future, M-vendr has been admitted into 500 Startups, a global venture capital seed fund and startup accelerator based in Silicon Valley, San Francisco.
M-vendr will be part of this accelerator for 4 months during which its team will receive mentorship and opportunities to build networks. At the end of 4 month period there will be a Demo Day where the entrepreneurs from M-vendr and the other teams admitted into 500 Startups will get a chance to to talk to investors.
There will also be an option to extend their stay for a few more months if there is need to do so for the further benefit of the startup. As part of this accelerator M-vendr will get US$125,000 for 5% equity of the startup with a possibility for follow-up investment.
According to Michael Charangwa from M-vendr, being opted into 500 Startups has been a huge boost in terms of validation of their service especially since the accelerator has a strong reputation as an investor and backer of lucrative startup solutions. 500 Startups looks at thousands of solutions so being selected is a significant endorsement.
Charangwa says the money they have secured will be extended towards a marketing campaign aimed at creating visibility for the service. So far, M-vendr is active in Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Nigeria, Namibia and it is set to launch in Ghana. It’s also exploring the possibility of developing a presence in Europe and North America through strategic partnerships.
The hope is that by the end of 2016 Mvendr will have approximately 100,000 active users, which is a significant jump from its current haul of about 20,000 users. This points to a need for a very aggressive growth plan that explores more than just marketing dynamics.
One of the strategies being explored is white labelling their service. It Has been a pivotal element of the M-vendr growth path, and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. So far it is being tested in Kenya and is set for introduction in the other countries in the coming months.
This route will involve signing up more white labelling clients which are companies that want to have their own brand on the app so they can use for their own products. Charangwa says this is more efficient in terms of providing customer support and as well as growing the user base.
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