In this episode we speak to Daniel Yu, a 32-year-old Californian entrepreneur now based in Zanzibar. He is the founder and CEO of Wasoko, a supply chain and distribution company established in 2015 to respond to the challenges faced by small and micro-business across Africa in managing stock levels.
Having just raised $125m in Series B venture capital funding from Tiger and Avenir, Wasoko is now valued at $625m, and has its sights set on eliminating the inefficiencies plaguing Africa’s enormous, dynamic, so-called “informal” retail economy.
Daniel has learned Swahili in order to better service his customers in East Africa. Wasoko’s network now spans 75,000 businesses across six African countries, but the plan is to become – in Daniel’s words – the “operating system” for commerce across urban Africa.
For Daniel, this growth must be coupled with a broader positive impact – to improve overall conditions in the communities in which they operate is core to Wasoko’s mission.
Alive to the possibilities of the technology sector for the continent, Daniel has worked with the authorities on Zanzibar to turn the island into an innovation hub. He still sees substantial deficits in the regulatory and operational frameworks structuring the innovation environment in Africa, and worries that these will fall short of the continent’s wealth of skills, creativity and entrepreneurial talent.
- Digitalising African retail
- The informal sector is the future of African work
- Africa bucking the global VC trend
- An MIT framework for innovation ecosystem policy
Host and executive producer: Dr Desné Masie
Co-producer: Peter Doerrie
Research: Angus Chapman
Digital Editor: Charles Dietz
Design: Jason Venkatasamy