For all the talk of major inflows of funding into the African tech space, many startups – whether by accident or design – remain unfunded. And for many, such as Nigeria’s Selar, this does not pose a problem.
Founded in 2016, Selar is an e-commerce store builder that enables anyone to monetise their knowledge or skills via digital products or memberships. Creators on Selar typically sell e-books, courses, and training.
“We’re just trying to make it easy for anyone to sell any kind of digital product online, and with Selar anyone can do this in less than five minutes. They get to host the products on Selar, they get cross-border payments for the world, and they get an easy way for their customers to access this product without any technical knowledge or building their own website,” said founder and CEO Douglas Kendyson, who previously worked for the likes of Flutterwave and Paystack.
The company has never raised any external capital, aside from a US$5,000 grant from the Tony Elumelu Foundation back in 2018, but that has not held it back.
“At the beginning a lot of our growth was slow, but it skyrocketed in 2020,” Kendyson said. Selar began that year with 3,000 sellers, but grew to 21,000 in 2021 and now has over 35,000.The startup is active in 10 African countries – Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Tanzania, Rwanda and Senegal – and plans further expansion soon.
“International expansion hasn’t been the easiest. Our HQ is Lagos, and with the majority of our team in Lagos, growing in Nigeria has been a lot easier than expanding our depth in all the other African countries we serve today. We’re definitely doing a lot of work to improve this,” Kendyson said.