Why Wasoko Relocated To Zanzibar ?
The Kenyan retail-tech startup provides free same-day delivery of essential goods and financing to informal retail stores across Africa.
Wasoko has relocated to Zanzibar as part of a new initiative by the government to turn the island into a tech hub. The platform enables retailers to order products anytime via SMS or mobile app and receive delivery through its proprietary logistics network to their store.
Wasoko has delivered over 2.5 million orders to over 50,000 informal retailers across Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Ivory Coast, and Senegal, and in March, banked a US$125 million Series B round for further expansion.
However, one of its first moves is to relocate its headquarters from Nairobi to Zanzibar, with the official launch of the Wasoko Innovation Hub in partnership with the Zanzibar government. Located in Fumba Town, Zanzibar, the new hub will focus on building solutions to drive Africa’s e-commerce industry.
The Wasoko Innovation Hub is the first private-public partnership between an African tech startup and the Zanzibar government for Silicon Zanzibar, a new government initiative to attract and relocate tech companies across Africa to the island. As part of the launch, Wasoko becomes Silicon Zanzibar’s first anchor company and official private sector ambassador.
In addition to strengthening Wasoko’s operational efficiency, the new hub will specialize in developing tools to personalize customer experiences, improve delivery metrics, expand financial services options and collect critical data and insights from across the value chain. Over the next ten years, it is expected to secure over US$15 million worth of investment, providing hundreds of Zanzibaris with a wealth of employment and career opportunities.
Daniel Yu, CEO and Founder at Wasoko, said: “As a pan-African tech company, Wasoko has been looking for a location where we can bring together the best talent from across the continent and beyond to innovate and develop new products and services for our customers. While we considered more traditional centres such as Dubai and London, we were ultimately committed to the belief that technology for Africa should be built in Africa.”
“Through our new partnership, we’re proud to be working alongside a government which is heavily invested in supporting this mission and are honoured to be a founding partner for Silicon Zanzibar. We strongly believe Wasoko will be the first in a long line of tech companies to establish a presence on the island,” Yu added.
Wasoko said the Innovation Hub would be part of Fumba Town’s current redevelopment scheme led by German engineering firm CPS, which is constructing hundreds of modern residential and commercial units along a 1.5km stretch of the ocean shore and is located only 15 minutes south of the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport.
The location will become the central hub for Silicon Zanzibar, which will streamline the issuance of work visas to skilled tech workers from across Africa and beyond to relocate to Zanzibar.
Mudrick Soraga, Zanzibar Minister of Investment and Economic Development, said: “We are providing an open and enabling environment for all tech companies and their team members to be based in Zanzibar – one of the world’s most attractive destinations – allowing everyone building tech for Africa to be based in Africa. We are excited to officially partner with Wasoko and other tech companies coming to Zanzibar to co-create policies and initiatives that will transform Zanzibar into a leading tech centre for the African continent.”