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Kenyan Startup Enables WhatsApp Commerce in Africa


Kenyan conversational commerce startup Sukhiba Connect aims to power seamless buying and selling through WhatsApp as social commerce booms across Africa.

The continent’s social commerce market is rapidly expanding as businesses leverage platforms like WhatsApp. However, limitations exist around digital payments and delivery, which is where Sukhiba comes in.

The company has developed a B2B tool enabling companies to reach and transact with customers directly within WhatsApp. Sellers can manage orders, accept mobile payments, send notifications and group buyers without leaving the app.

“We brought the ability to do the full transaction from conversation to purchase, payments and delivery on WhatsApp,” said Sukhiba co-founder and CEO Ananth Gudipati.

So far, Sukhiba has enabled WhatsApp commerce for over 30 companies, largely manufacturers and distributors serving some 15,000 small and medium enterprises. These sellers use Sukhiba to help sales teams expand their reach and gain new retailers as customers.

Features like customer routing assign reps to provide tailored support within WhatsApp based on location. Gudipati says this maintains vital personal relationships between buyers and sellers.

Sukhiba essentially brings CRM capabilities to the messaging app. Companies can map views, monitor conversations and more to manage the sales process end-to-end.

The startup operates in Kenya, where WhatsApp dominates messaging. However, high usage across Africa offers expansion potential. Sukhiba now plans to grow beyond Kenya after securing $1.5 million in seed funding led by CRE Ventures.

Nigeria is one target market, given its massive WhatsApp penetration. However, localisation is needed as some e-commerce functionalities are missing from WhatsApp’s basic business tools. Sukhiba is among the African startups filling these gaps.

“Significant transactions and conversations happen on WhatsApp, even if the app lacks capabilities to record them,” said Gudipati. “Whether enabling commerce directly or facilitating conversations leading to it, WhatsApp plays a major role.”

Sukhiba pivoted last year from an asset-heavy bulk order model to pure conversational commerce. The shift aligned with its strength in building innovative, scalable software.

Rather than create a new app, Sukhiba tapped the existing WhatsApp ecosystem and habits. Gudipati believes this lowers barriers as communities already exist on the platform.

With Africa’s accelerating social commerce, Sukhiba aims to power seamless transactions through messaging. Leveraging WhatsApp’s widespread use and familiarity, the startup brings conversational commerce to sellers across the continent.



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