Kenya is one of Africa’s fastest-growing mobile phone markets, making it a hot spot for businesses looking to leverage the apparent opportunity. One such business is Badili, a smartphone re-commerce startup based in Kenya.
Badili has secured $2.1 million in pre-seed funding to scale its operations within the continent, which is also one of the fastest-growing mobile phone markets across the globe. The round saw the participation of investors like The Venture Catalyst, V&R Africa, Grenfell Holdings, and SOSV. Family offices and angel investors across Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and India also participated in Badili’s pre-seed round.
Badili was founded early this year by Rishabh Lawania and Keshu Dubey, who hold the positions of CEO and CTO respectively. Rishabh Lawania is also the founder of Wee Media (parent company of WeeTracker news site) and gadgets Africa.
With the newly-received funding, the startup will be exploring growth opportunities in West Africa. Badili wants to leverage the increasing demand for affordable pre-owned or second-hand smartphones. It will also be strengthening its operations in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
“We are launching in Uganda and Tanzania and have established strong partnerships with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Within the next six months, we will be expanding to a few West African markets to get our foot in the door of some of the major markets in Africa,” Badili’s CEO said.
Now here’s how the startup operates. It indulges in trade-ins and buybacks on behalf of major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and phone dealers. Badili also buys devices from individuals. It has signed partnerships with major brands like Samsung.
The idea for Badili came to fill a gap. CEO Rishabh Lawania founded the startup after he noticed that a legitimate and trustworthy re-commerce industry does not exist in Kenya. In contrast, there is an astronomical demand for pre-owned or second-hand devices in the country.
“One of my ex-employees in Kenya got arrested for buying a stolen phone, and it struck me that most people can’t really buy pre-owned electronics here because the only option they have is the grey market, which is risky. That is when Badili idea kicked in. I thought something really needs to change,” Rishabh Lawania explained.
According to the startup’s CEO, 60 percent of its customers are people upgrading their smartphones. He also added that the startup sells devices for less than half their original price.
“We are providing an alternative to people who don’t want to pay full price for a device, and I am more excited about the fact that we are able to help a lot of consumers buy their first smartphone,” the CEO said.
Badili buys these devices from its platform and network of shops and agents existing across Kenya. It uses a price estimation algorithm, which takes into account factors such as the phone’s age and model, to determine the value of the phone. These phones are bought, revamped, repackaged, and resold with a one-year warranty.
To ensure that it is not buying stolen products, the startup takes details like ID and mugshot of the sellers and requires them to sign an affidavit indicating that the stated device belongs to them. For extra caution, the startup has a system that flags frequent sellers.
Badili hopes to become the continent’s most trusted and largest consumer electronics re-commerce marketplace.