Nigeria-based B2B startup -a spinoff from Rensource (an African energy firm that provides consumers with power-as-a-service), Sabi, has announced it closed a $6m bridge deal led by CRE Ventures, a pan-African VC fund.
Sabi spawned out of Rensource which has been led by Ademola Adesina and Anu Adasolum since its inception in 2015 (with Adesina serving as founder and CEO and Adasolum as COO), after the founders investigated the additional issues that their Rensource customers were experiencing, beyond energy. Sabi was birthed in October 2020, with Rensource’s business halted by the epidemic.
The startup aims to act as middlemen (mostly distributors) in the B2B e-commerce retail chain. Sabi provides services to manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers, classifying them all as merchants.
Sabi adopts an asset-light approach as it doesn’t own any trucks, warehouses, or inventory but enables visibility into these assets for both the buyer and the seller, as well as controls, on a single platform.
Sabi earns money by charging merchants a transaction charge when they make a sale on the marketplace. By providing customers with financing, the corporation gets a profit.
Ademola Adesina, CEO, and co-founder of Sabi speaking on the funding said that the startup is not replacing the middlemen in the retail chain but aims to aggregate sales and enhance the performance of the middlemen in commerce.
“We’re not trying to be, you know, a tech-enabled digital distributor. We’re not trying to disintermediate a market full of hyper-specialization where one of the defining characteristics of the informal sector is you have all these middlemen and agents performing a very narrow role.
“We think that specialization is important for the sector to work properly — whether its aggregation, making a sale, knowing the customer especially well, all these middlemen play a key role. And the way we deal with them is we give them a set of tools and an infrastructure they can run their business on to make it more optimized,” Adesina said.
“Sabi’s online and offline approach to serving informal businesses, combined with the quality of its platform and service provider curation, has taken root in Nigeria. The company is on track to be one of the fastest-growing African companies of 2021 and is showing no signs of slowing down,” Pardon Makumbe, co-founder and managing partner of CRE Venture Capital said.