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Sukhiba Connect, a pioneering Kenyan social commerce startup, has successfully raised $1.5 million in funding to fuel its expansion ambitions beyond the country’s borders.

This funding round was led by CRE Venture Capital and saw participation from notable investors, including Antler, EQ2 Ventures, Goodwater Capital, Chandaria Capital, and several angel investors.

Established in 2021 by co-founders Ananth Gudipati (CEO) and Abhinav Solipuram (CTO), Sukhiba Connect initially embarked on its journey as a community commerce platform, streamlining buyer orders and simplifying bulk purchases for manufacturers.

However, the startup later transitioned to the conversational commerce sphere, primarily due to the capital-intensive nature of the initial model.

Sukhiba Connect has since developed a remarkable B2B conversational commerce tool that enables companies to engage with and sell products to their clients through Meta’s popular messaging service, WhatsApp.

With this innovative platform, sellers can seamlessly send notifications, categorize customers, manage orders, and accept local payment options like M-PESA, Kenya’s widely used mobile money service.

On the customer side, individuals can effortlessly browse product catalogs, add or remove items from their carts, and complete the entire checkout process, all without leaving the WhatsApp ecosystem.

Kenya boasts the distinction of being the leading African nation in WhatsApp usage, with a staggering 97% of Internet users in the country relying on the messaging service.

Notably, WhatsApp has become the preferred communication channel for internet users aged between 16 and 64, surpassing other social media platforms, as revealed by a survey conducted in the third quarter of 2022.

While WhatsApp offers several features to assist businesses in establishing in-app stores, certain gaps persist, and localization remains a challenge.

Sukhiba Connect, alongside other social commerce startups like Tushop and Kapu, has been diligently addressing these issues, but the co-founder, Ananth Gudipati, asserts that there is still a vast untapped potential in this space.

Sukhiba Connect’s B2B conversational commerce tool has enabled over 30 businesses to embrace WhatsApp commerce, the majority of which are prominent distributors and manufacturers serving nearly 15,000 micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), including retailers.

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