Startups Enabling E-Procurement in Africa
by Noel Oduory
E-procurement and supply chain management are critical for businesses across Africa to efficiently source and deliver goods. Startups in this sector aim to leverage technology to simplify B2B transactions, onboarding, and logistics. E-procurement is especially relevant in Africa, where many markets are fragmented and informal. In this article, we will explore three startups that are digitising procurement in Africa: Lemon, Vendease, and Cartona. These startups are using innovative solutions to connect buyers and sellers, streamline supply chains, and create value for their customers.
Lemon Africa (South Africa)
Lemon is a B2B marketplace for industrial supplies based in Johannesburg, South Africa founded by Kabelo Mtshazwe and Hlumelo Fungile in 2021. The e-procurement startup offers a supplier enablement platform that helps customers source, onboard, and transact with curated dropship and wholesale vendors. The platform functions as a digital hub where suppliers showcase their products such as tools, machinery, equipment and materials, and buyers can browse, compare offerings and make purchases effortlessly. Lemon’s digital-first approach eliminates manual processes and reduces time to purchase, freeing procurement teams from high-volume transactional orders. The solution enables businesses to access various products while fostering healthy competition among suppliers. By streamlining procurement processes and facilitating seamless transactions, Lemon Africa revolutionises how industrial enterprises source their supplies, unlocking new opportunities for growth and operational efficiency.
Vendease is a YC-backed food-tech company that provides a platform that helps food businesses run their daily operations as efficiently as possible. Founded in 2019 by Tunde Kara(CEO), Wale Oyepeju(CTO), Olumide Fayankin(COO), and Gatumi Aliyu(CPO), the company’s biggest and most popular product is the e-procurement or the Vendease marketplace, where restaurants can buy all of their supplies directly from a network of vetted suppliers, and get them delivered within 12 hours or less. The company offers various tools and solutions to help food businesses track their orders and manage their inventory, menu costing, and point-of-sales.
The platform also provides access to financing options and credit facilities. Vendease’s vision is to be the one-stop platform that ensures that the flow of food from the point of production to the point of consumption is as efficient as possible, reaching 1 billion plus Africans every day. The platform has over 3,000 registered hotels and restaurants on its platform.
Cartona is digitising the traditional trade market in Egypt. It is a B2B e-procurement platform that connects retailers and wholesalers with manufacturers and distributors of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). Founded in 2020 by Mahmoud Talaat, Rafik Zaher and Mahmoud Abdelfattah, Cartona aims to digitise and optimise the FMCG supply chain, which is largely dominated by middlemen, brokers, and cash transactions. Cartona’s asset-light platform allows buyers to order inventory from a network of curated sellers via an app that provides a communication tool for promotions and a dashboard for operation analytics and market insights. The platform has over 60,000 registered retailers and 1500 suppliers on its platform, handling over 14, 000 products in 16 cities.
Role of e-procurement innovations:
These innovations contribute to the sector’s growth or address specific challenges by:
- Reducing the costs and risks associated with traditional procurement methods.
- Increasing the convenience and speed of the procurement process, by enabling online ordering, payment, and delivery.
- Improving the quality and variety of the products and services available, by connecting buyers and sellers across different regions and markets.
- Empowering buyers and sellers by giving them more choice, control, and information over their procurement decisions.
- Supporting the development and sustainability of local businesses, especially SMEs, wholesalers, and suppliers, by providing them with access to new markets, customers, and opportunities.
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