Zandaux sets up South African operations

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 15 Feb 2024
Around 1 000 African businesses are registered to operate on
Around 1 000 African businesses are registered to operate on

Newly-launched Pan-African business-to-business marketplace Zandaux.comhas set up its South African operations, with an ambition to become the “Alibaba of Africa”.

The e-commerce platform, which connects buyers and sellers across the continent, says its business model is premised on a “one Africa, one market” approach, enabling businesses and merchants across all sectors to offer their services and products to customers in any part of the continent.

Headquartered in Johannesburg, the marketplace, which envisions democratising e-commerce for African SMEs, launched its first two operations last month, in Kenya and Nigeria, with plans to expand to Egypt at the end of February.

The marketplace will initially operate in Africa’s four key markets, before expanding to the rest of the continent.

Speaking at the launch in Johannesburg yesterday, Zandaux CEO and founder Franck Obambi Ngatse commented that the marketplace is a driving force, with the aim to digitise African businesses and offer them an opportunity to operate intercontinentally by targeting Africa’s 1.3 billion citizens.

By helping businesses scale and increase their revenues, the start-up’s ultimate mission is to see tens of millions of Africans lifted out of extreme poverty, by raising the incomes of millions of breadwinners, he added.

“The platform is designed to provide a direct link between suppliers and customers, regardless of their geolocation; increase sales efficiency; and expose customers to a variety of suppliers, products and services which were previously beyond their reach, while saving costs in trading transactions.

“Our African market is made of 70% small businesses, which often do not have the budget to reach their target audience. With Zandaux, businesses are able to reach markets they may not have been able to reach without an e-commerce platform that opens them up to a world of businesses opportunities,” explained Ngatse.

Providing examples of the platform’s primary target market, he noted SMEs, manufacturers, social enterprises, wholesalers, resellers, distributors, factory shops, and importers and exporters of all types of merchandise including vehicles – which pay a 3% commission on each item purchased on the platform.

The start-up competes with the likes of Jumia, Copia, HoBeei and – marketplaces targeting African businesses and consumers.

The number of e-commerce shoppers in Africa is predicted to reach 236 million by the end of 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 43%, to reach 338.45 million users by 2028, according to Statista.

Zandaux CEO and founder Franck Obambi Ngatse and CTO Dennis Reumer.
Zandaux CEO and founder Franck Obambi Ngatse and CTO Dennis Reumer.

According to Ngatse, Zandaux has been in development since 2020 and currently has over 20 million unique daily visitors. In October, the company had a soft launch in SA, and started marketing and signing up local businesses.

While trading has not officially resumed locally, there are currently around 1 000 African businesses in total registered to operate on the platform, he added.

Ngatse noted emerging technologies − such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools − form a key part of the capabilities used by the platform to provide a user-friendly experience centred on maximum security.

It uses third-party payment services, with the aim to build its own payment infrastructure in order to gain full control of the payment process, he continued.

“The marketplace is developed in such a way that it has the highest level of multi-layered security, to protect all users, including the buyer, merchant and the payment processes.

“The use of AI, machine learning and other innovations is very important to us for two key reasons: to ensure the buyer gets the best experience through personalisation when using our platform, and to provide maximum protection while flagging suspicious behaviour,” he stated.

While courier and delivery services will be handled directly by the merchants’ third-party courier partners, Zandaux facilitates a channel of communication between the buyer and seller.

Also speaking at the launch, Dennis Reumer, CTO of Zandaux, said: “Our user experience is more focused on ensuring a smooth payment process and enabling engagements between the buyer and seller.

“This includes creating an engagement channel for things such as negotiating bulk-buying, discounts and creating a networking channel – features which are not common on consumer-focused platforms.”

Democratic Republic of the Congo-born Ngatse describes himself as a visionary businessman with a decade of entrepreneurial experience. He has been president of the African Community Association Netherlands since 2011. His professional journey entails founding and leading several businesses across sectors from 2014, including Clean WorldNL.

Additionally, he served as a business strategy advisor at Movares Group B.V. Nederland. His qualifications include an MSc in International Business Management from Groningen University (2018), an MSc in Corporate Entrepreneurship from Utrecht University (2016), and a BSc in Economics Business Economics from Utrecht University (2015).