SA startup Kuba helps small businesses access larger customer bases

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South African startup Kuba is simplifying procurement for corporate entities and individuals looking to work with small businesses via its digital platform.

Founded early last year by Jacques Sibomana, Kuba enables large companies and private individuals to diversify their supplier pool and support small enterprises by listing vendors on its platform, facilitating transactions and making paper trails accessible.

The startup’s platform delivers vetted contracting opportunities across industries and services such as welding, carpentry and accounting, at the same time allowing vendors to a professionalise their offering to include polished quoting and invoicing as well as the empirical credibility of past transactions needed to trade with a large corporate entity.

Since its launch, Kuba has attracted over 500 small businesses and vendors to its platform, accessing new opportunities with more than 200 active users. Since inception, more than 100 income-generating opportunities have been created through Kuba, and over 800 transactions have taken place.

“Kuba grew from a project that I ran called the Informal Traders Consultancy. Its main goal was to develop the next generation informal trader in Africa, providing products and services that informal traders need to trade better and smarter,” Sibomana told Disrupt Africa.

“From this project I released that the biggest challenge for small businesses, especially those operating in informal communities, was access to market.”

So he built Kuba, with the aim of making small businesses more visible for those looking for their services.

“The African economy depends highly on informal businesses. Even though they receive less attention and support, this market is getting even bigger,” Sibomana said.

The self-funded Kuba has done a good job of accessing this market so far, and currently has at least one small business listed in every province of South Africa, charging users on a pay-as-they-use or subscription basis.

“Kuba has been well received both by small business owners as well as large corporates, with clients such as Bertha Centre, Old Mutual and Social Places all using Kuba to find small businesses nearest to them. We have connected plumbers from Dunoon township to clients in Durbanville and Stellenbosch. We have seen a small business in Khayelitsha doing jobs in affluent suburbs, but our biggest takeaway has been seeing these small businesses growing and using our tech to trade with each other,” said Sibomana.

“We are looking to expand our reach in South Africa and become the software of choice for these small business owners. We are also exploring other African markets, with an eye on West Africa, and also India.”

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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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