E-commerce start-up Sky Garden relaunches after Ksh.250M investment by Lipa Later

E-commerce start-up Sky Garden relaunches after Ksh.250M investment by Lipa Later

From Left: Juliet Wanjiru, Head of E-Commerce at Lipa Later; Eric Muli, Group CEO; and Claudine Gakundi, Country Manager for Kenya. | PHOTO: Handout

Kenyan e-commerce start-up Sky Garden has relaunched following its December 2022 acquisition by tech credit platform Lipa Later.

Lipa Later on Thursday said a Ksh.250 million investment in Sky Garden has revamped the e-commerce platform as it targets to connect 100,000 merchants in the next year.

Sky Garden’s new platform will now have payment solutions, logistic support, marketing tools, and business insights.

It will enable merchants access to financing, real-time transaction monitoring, direct bill payments, seamless deposits and withdrawals to M-Pesa or bank accounts, and the ability to open a bank account.

Lipa Later’s Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) service partners with retailers to allow shoppers to pay in instalments and operates in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.

As such, Sky Garden customers will be able to purchase items from the Amazon-style marketplace using Lipa Later’s model which provides a payment plan that is flexible and affordable through monthly instalments.

The business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce start-up also announced it is also venturing into social commerce. The company is enabling shoppers to discover, share, and purchase products directly within their social networks.

Merchants on the other hand will be able to reduce their online interactions and make sales all the time from anywhere, Sky Garden said.

“Our group vision is to be a commerce catalyst for businesses and communities across Africa. We firmly believe that local ownership and operation are essential in understanding the needs of our people, contributing to the prosperity of our nation, and forging a true connection with our community,” Lipa Later Group CEO Eric Muli said.

Sky Garden was on the brink of closure last year following October’s insolvency after the start-up failed to close a round of financing in September.

The venture had raised over $6,000,000 (Ksh.919 million at current exchange rates) prior to the acquisition.

In September this year, Lipa Later announced it had secured approval to raise funds from the general public in the United States, becoming one of the first African companies to secure the green light from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Weeks later, the tech credit platform announced the closure of a Ksh.500 million debt issue supported by Rubicon Landing as the transaction advisor and KN Law as the legal advisor.

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