Women across Africa and Asia will soon be spoilt for choice when it comes to second-hand clothing after Yaga, a women-founded e-commerce start-up, raised €2.2 million ($2.3 million) to grow its platform.
Offering a localised and secure online second-hand fashion experience, Yaga is a pioneer in the second-hand fashion industry, which is still in its infancy in Africa and Asia. In Europe and the United States the social e-commerce market for so-called pre-loved fashion is robust, thanks to companies like Vinted and Depop.
Having previously relied on angel investments, Yaga’s latest funding round was backed by investors in the Baltics. This round, led by Startup Wise Guys – one of the most active seed-stage investors in the Nordics – included Trind Ventures, Specialist VC, and Rubylight, as well as Markus Villig, CEO of Bolt, and angel investors with backgrounds in Planet42, Wise, Veriff, Katana and Klaus.
This demonstrates strong investor confidence in the growth of the market.
“There is a huge future for pre-loved fashion, especially in emerging markets like Africa and Asia,” says Aune Aunapuu, co-founder and chief executive of Yaga.
“Second-hand is becoming a global phenomenon, expected to grow 127% by 2026. In addition, three in four retail executives say they have or are open to offering second-hand to their customers.
“In Africa, the industry has experienced growth four times higher than the rest of the world. While Yaga has tripled its worldwide sales over the past 18 months, Yaga South Africa has seen local sales increase sevenfold during the same time.”
Launched in 2019, Yaga quickly became one of South Africa’s most popular online fashion platforms, with over 5 million visits per month. More than 5 000 new items are listed every day, with 750 000 items currently on sale just in South Africa.
Local payment and delivery
Yaga’s popularity is not surprising: its social e-commerce platform is like a mix between Instagram and eBay, allowing users to browse and purchase products in a visual feed, or to create their own personal online stores for selling pre-loved items.
The start-up also offers local payment and delivery methods, making shopping and selling online more accessible.
Through its escrow system, Yaga further ensures money only changes hands when both parties confirm the deal went smoothly, addressing one of the main risks of buying from strangers online and providing peace of mind for buyers and sellers.
“We are big believers in the circular economy, and it is great to see thrifting come into fashion. The second-hand trend is part of the global sustainability shift, with even large retail chains seeking collaboration to support their sustainability strategies. Circular business practices in the fashion sector cut emissions, reduce resource use, minimise waste and create a more accessible economy,” explains Aunapuu.
“Yaga also makes a winning business formula available to everyone, promoting sustainable fashion while also opening economic opportunities in the second-hand fashion industry, with South Africans able to both save and make money on the Yaga platform. We are excited about the potential impact we can have on South Africa and beyond.”
With the latest investment, Yaga aims to continue its rapid growth over the next year, further developing its platform, growing its team, and attracting new customers. Having recently also expanded to Kenya and India, the company is set to become the leading marketplace for second-hand fashion in Africa and Asia.