IFC invests in E-Commerce Platform ANKA to support Africa’s creative artisans

Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, September 19, 2023 — An IFC investment into leading African e-commerce platform ANKA will support the growth of thousands of small and women-led artisanal businesses, strengthening Africa's creative industries and its growing online retail sector.

IFC's $3.4 million equity investment, announced today, into Côte d'Ivoire-based ANKA marks IFC's first investment into Africa's creative sector. The funding will allow ANKA, an online sales platform for African creators and merchants, to scale its operations and onboard about 100,000 additional artisans from across Africa by 2030.

ANKA offers a one-stop online platform for African artists, including those making and selling clothing, jewelry, and accessories, helping them connect with new markets by facilitating sales, shipping, and payment processing. The platform is used by more than 22,000 sellers, primarily in Africa and several in North America, the Caribbean, and Europe. The sellers' products can be purchased on the online marketplace Afrikrea, which is powered by ANKA.

"We are excited to partner with IFC, particularly at this stage of our growth story. Having recorded important growth since 2021, we are now in line for the next stage of our journey. This investment will support our expansion drive as we continue to connect Africa's creative entrepreneurs to a global market," said Moulaye Tabouré, CEO of ANKA.  

"Empowering African artisans, particularly women, and helping them access wider markets is crucial to raise the bar of economic inclusion and spur sustainable growth," said Makhtar Diop, IFC Managing Director. "ANKA's strategy of connecting artisanal fashion designers and merchants to global markets aligns with our vision of supporting Africa's creative industry to unlock new opportunities for inclusive growth." 

In addition to financing, IFC will help ANKA deliver financial literacy and other training for women retailers on the platform to strengthen their businesses. IFC also will provide advisory support directly to ANKA to help the company improve its corporate governance framework.

According to the World Bank's Enterprise Surveys data, Africa's creative entrepreneurs face significant challenges accessing global markets, with only 12 percent of small businesses directly exporting their products. Meanwhile, Africa's e-commerce market for creative products is less than 10 percent of its overall retail market.   

However, according to IFC's recent Women and e-commerce in Africa report, Africa's e-commerce market could grow by more than $14.5 billion between 2025-2030, with the potential to stimulate the African creative sector, support micro-entrepreneurs, and create jobs. Bridging earning gaps between men and women on e-commerce platforms could add nearly $15 billion to the value of the African e-commerce market, the report said.

IFC's investment in ANKA was made through IFC's new Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, and Pakistan Venture Capital Platform, which backs early-stage tech startups in the education, healthcare, climate, agriculture, and other sectors.

IFC's investment is supported by the International Development Association's Private Sector Window Blended Finance Facility.  

Source: IFC