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How Nigeria’s Joovlin helps retailers sell online by connecting them with on-demand inventor.

Nigerian startup Joovlin is a B2B social commerce marketplace that helps retailers sell online with zero capital by connecting them to on-demand inventory.

Founded by Kingsley Nwose, Yusuf Olalere, and Lucky Mark after they met at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana, Joovlin allows customers to create storefronts and run a full-fledged e-commerce store powered by its platform. 

“They can onboard their own retailers to resell their products and they can simultaneously retail to final consumers,” Nwose told Disrupt Africa.

Meanwhile, Joovlin curates all the products listed for wholesale and makes them available to retailers on demand. Retailers come to Joovlin to find products they can resell, select as many as they want, add their own profit markup, and start reselling to their immediate network, either online or offline.

“When they receive any orders, Joovlin delivers to the buyer while the retailer keeps their profit. We handle the rigors of fulfilment and dispute resolution, and give them room to focus on the main business of selling,” said Nwose.

The three founders, after they met at MEST, started off trying to build a payment gateway to connect all mobile wallets in Nigeria, but soon realised most wallets are connecting to the main banking switch anyways. 

“Around this time, we noticed that lots of people have started selling on social media – WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook. We decided to speak with them and also speak with people who intend to also start selling,” Nwose said. 

“After interviewing over 300 of these social commerce merchants, we saw a pattern. Over 90 per cent of them do not stock any goods, they only post images of trending products and source them when orders are placed. They walk from store to store picking up the ordered items, and also manually find logistics personnel to deliver the orders.” 

If a dispute occurs, they still handle it manually, while losing money on the cost of return orders. 

“On average, a social media retailer makes 15 phone calls to complete an order. They also have very limited access to capital or credit, have no brick-and-mortar stores, and don’t keep inventory,” Nwose said.

Joovlin decided to work on making this disjointed process more efficient, and early uptake has been strong. Over 50 merchants signed up to Joovlin’s waitlist, and it started beta testing in late 2021. 

“We have since iterated the initial product due to feedback and market realities. Not only are we enabling low budget underserved retailers to sell with zero capital investment, we are also providing a direct-to-retailer tool for enterprises. We help them connect directly with their retailers,” said Nwose. 

“So an enterprise can set up an e-commerce storefront on Joovlin, differentiate between wholesale and retail prices, onboard online-first retailers who select any number of products, add their profit markup, and sell on their e-commerce store. We help enterprises build a network of online retailers.”

Joovlin has been recording steady growth since it started beta testing, growing over 100 per cent month-on-month in the first three months. 

“We have maintained over 80 per cent month-on-month growth rate in revenue for six months straight. Over 6,000 products are listed by suppliers on the platform and over 2,000 active resellers so far, yet we are still testing within just two clusters of the market,” Nwose said. 

“We are fleshing out the product more and more every day, and increasing the value for users. We are currently working on a cross platform mobile app which will start testing by the end of the quarter.” 

Having received US$100,000 in pre-seed funding from MEST, Joovlin has plans to eventually cover Africa, and then go global. 

“Our focus now is to build a solid base in Nigeria and test the product properly before expanding,” he said.

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