Zimbabwean startup Esaja, has raised funding in a round led by Hong Kong-based firm Swastika Company.
The funding will be used to adapt the product based on market feedback.
Esaja, which launched in May 2013, essentially operates like a dating site for businesses to “check each other out” and discover business leads they might not previously have been aware of or had access to.
The Hong Kong firm joins existing investors including South Africa-based CRE Venture Capital and local backers in Zimbabwe.
“We’re tackling a big pain point and have spent tonnes of time and resources travelling, learning from, and working with thousands of businesses from across the continent,” said Clinton Mutambo founder of Esaja.
“We’ve found ourselves crossing African borders, like Busia between Uganda and Kenya, grinding it out on factory floors and tackling industrial policies with officials. Suffice to say, we’ve paid a lot of school fees. All this has been achieved from a nation which in the recent past, was breaking all the wrong records. Zim’s been tough but it’s given us a very unique perspective of Africa’s development trajectory.”
Mutambo was last year named by Forbes magazine as one of Africa’s 30 most promising entrepreneurs under the age of 30, and came to the realisation of the need for a platform like Esaja from a personal business experience.
“I started my first formal business when I was 19,” he said. “One of our key projects was bidding to develop a mascot for Southern Africa’s biggest soccer tournament in 2009. After a lengthy and overtly bureaucratic process, we got the greenlight to develop Fabula the eagle. The search to identify a supplier in our part of the world was just too painful for words.”
Mutambo did finally find a supplier, with only two weeks to go until kickoff, but only through what he calls “sheer luck”. The idea for Esaja was born.
Esaja’s revenue model is based on the value-added services it provides to its members, an example being real-time business intelligence.