After growing up in Mali and working around the world, Moulaye Tabouré co-founded African fashion retail startup Afrikrea.com in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. To date, it has done over $15 million worth of transactions in 170 countries with 7,000 sellers from 46 of 54 African countries. Afrikrea has raised $2.1 million in funding to date and is expected to close its Series A round by the end of this quarter.
What’s the biggest tech opportunity in Francophone Africa that’s often overlooked?
Any tech opportunity that can leverage the zone’s homogeneity in currency [the CFA] and language. Despite the differences in each country, once your product gains ground in more than one country, I believe this becomes a significant competitive advantage. Network effects started in the zone are more resilient and cheaper to sustain than from Nigeria to Kenya, for example.
What’s the most common misconception about Francophone West Africa?
That companies or products born here cannot thrive all over Africa and the world. It is counterintuitive, but the zone is indeed harder to start from, but once you make it here, you can not only “make it anywhere” but actually dominate there. For instance, despite being Francophones, our biggest communities of African sellers are in Nigeria and Kenya.
What has been the most important management decision of your career?
Changing our business model from pure marketplace to being the all-in-one SaaS solution known as Anka.africa, in the middle of the pandemic. This realigned our role as partner rather than as just one additional channel to our community, that, despite initial fears, ended up sticking even stronger with us!
What’s the key challenge with e-commerce in your markets?
Trust ! Of course between buyers and sellers, but especially among sellers. Due to previous experiences and lack of confidence, collaboration is limited. As few share their experience, learning and growth are also lacking in depth. That is why communities like the ones we want to build will be essential to Africa’s e-commerce growth on the global stage.
How are you preparing your company for the end of the pandemic?
By reminding our team and sellers that this was just an acceleration to a new normal, not just a one-time deal. Pandemic or not, behaviors have changed for good.