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SABI, an early-stage start-up with ambitious plans to aid millions of merchants across Africa, believes its new Johannesburg office will help to enable the digital transformation of South Africa’s R157 billion informal economy.
The start-up describes itself as Africa’s leading provider of commercial infrastructure for goods and services distribution. It is venture capital-funded with offices in Nigeria and Kenya and short-term plans to expand to Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a media release, SABI chief executive and co-founder Anu Adasolum says South Africa’s micro, small and medium-sized traders can now improve their cash flow with more reliable supply chains and better customer marketing using SABI as “Africa’s leading B2B platform for goods and services distribution.”
SABI is partnering with Vumele to enable and empower South Africa’s informal economy. This includes over 200 000 spaza shops and spazarettes, 100 000 Kasi Kos traders and taverns, and 500 000 street hawkers and table top traders – mostly small businesses.
Valued at over R157 billion, they supply basic needs including food and clothing while employing around 30% of the country’s population. South Africa is a key market in Sub-Saharan Africa’s $800 billion informal trade economy, which is made up of over 56 million micro, small and medium-sized businesses, most operating offline with little or no exposure to the formalised, digital economy – an issue that SABI strives to solve across the continent.
Vumele uses its technology platform to provide informal merchants with access to supplies, logistics, business tools, payment processing, and financial services. The platform enables businesses to reach the right suppliers, get sector-specific middle agents and increase their customer reach in hours rather than months.
“SABI has given me the opportunity to sell more, my customers keep coming back because now they know I always have what they want,” says informal business owner Dami Gbadamosi.
Founded in 2021 in Nigeria, SABI has grown into the largest commercial services platform for Africa’s informal economy, with a $500m annualised gross merchandise value as of July 2022. Two-hundred thousand traders and 10 000 agents, mostly low-income earners or traders without access to traditional business or financial services, in Africa already use the platform via the SABI app.
Adasolum says, “SABI’s technology creates a cost-effective bridge that enables informal traders to reach the right suppliers in a way that boosts net benefits for everyone involved in the value chain.
“We are excited to partner with Vumele in becoming the ecosystem for South Africa’s informal economy of small buyers, sellers and agents. These hard-working people are an often-neglected group across Africa that provides employment, food and other basic needs for more than 70% of the continent’s population.”