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Online marketplaces are, in reality, most likely a nightmare to manage and monitor. From the plethora of scams out there to fake users and posts, running an online marketplace is not for the faint of heart, especially in Africa, notorious for online scams.
Mobofree, an African-based mobile marketplace with a social twist that allows people to “buy, sell and swap products with other trusted people”, wants to situate itself as Africa’s leading mobile “scam-free” marketplace, and thanks to new funding from Netherlands-based eVentures Africa Fund (eVA Fund), it can continue on that path.
Launched in 2011, MoboFree has become one of the largest mobile social and trusted classifieds platforms in West Africa with three-million registered users generating an average of 65-million page impressions each month. According to Opera State of The Mobile Web, MoboFree is in the top ten sites in Nigeria and Malawi, and in the top five in Zimbabwe.
Neringa Kudarauskiene of MoboFree says that “since we launched MoboFree in 2011, the concept quickly went viral, attracting immediate registrations from people who enjoyed the possibility to make online deals in a social and safe environment.”
The undisclosed cash injection from the eVA Fund — whose previous African investments include Umuntu Media — will be used to expand MoboFree’s local presence in Lagos and Accra, and to start up offices in East Africa for “marketing and investments.” With the new partnership, the eVA Fund has introduced Million Monkeys as a co-investor in MoboFree. The Million Monkeys’ founders bring industry knowledge to the table as they started up the online classifieds platform “2dehands” (second-hand goods) in the Netherlands and Belgium, which they recently exited to eBay.
Brian Hirman of eVA Fund notes, “the strategy of Mobofree to integrate social network elements into classifieds boards, makes buying and selling online more fun, personal and more importantly, safer. We all know that scams in online marketplaces are a big problem. The severe measures MoboFree undertakes to avoid this on its platform is something we firmly believe in as a key driver for long-term success.”
Kudarauskiene adds, “This investment will allow us to continue and speed up our growth in sub-Saharan Africa and deepen our focus on delivering the most dynamic experience for our users.”