Kenyan fashion startup ZUMI closes $250k round

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Kenyan startup ZUMI, a digital media platform for fashion, has secured a US$250,000 funding round in order to expand into new markets and diversify into e-commerce.

The investment came from Majlis Investment Management in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other international angel investors.

Launched in October of last year by William McCarren and Sabrina Dorman, ZUMI was originally intended to be a fashion e-commerce business.

“It wasn’t until after I had quit my job to launch this business and was doing research into potential content partners that I realised the gap in women’s digital media,” McCarren said.

“I was trying to find online women’s magazines to partner with but all I could find was outdated print magazines or online content for women in the West. This was the lightbulb moment, sitting in Java House in Nairobi, when I saw that we could create an online women’s magazine to capture this huge audience of content-starved, online users in Kenya.”

McCarren and Dorman decided to postpone the e-commerce idea until later and focus on digital media, and subsequently had 200,000 millennial women visit the website in its second month. ZUMI grew to a peak of just under one million unique users in July.

“We have also diversified into video, creating an in-house video production team who rack up five million views per month. With this rapid growth, we want to expand into new markets and business lines,” McCarren said.

The investment round will see ZUMI launch in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda in the next year.

“Next, we aim to diversify into e-commerce with our own line of beauty products and build an in-house advertising agency for brands targeting millennial women,” said McCarren.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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