Impact-driven startup Yaga has just raised €2.2 million for its social e-commerce platform. The Estonian-born startup is on a mission to bring the digital approach to second-hand fashion to emerging markets, making the circular revolution a global movement.
Transitioning to a circular economy is one of the most efficient ways to make life and society more sustainable. It’s a philosophy that advocates wasting less and seeing the inherent value that products have, using them for the entirety of their lifespan, not just until our needs and tastes differ.
The fashion industry is an incredibly wasteful sector. With the rise of fast fashion and a toxic tendency towards discarding perfectly good clothes after just a couple of uses, which has been perpetuated by sociocultural pressures, the fashion industry has been exposed to be incredibly harmful to the planet. But it doesn’t have to be that way – and things are changing.
A second-hand fashion revolution has picked up pace in Europe, thanks to the work of startups like Vinted, and consumers and brands alike are starting to approach fashion and retail with circularity in mind. Brands like Zara now have drop-off points for previously worn clothes, so they can be repurposed and re-loved, and platforms like Vinted are continuing to grow as people purchase second-hand clothes.
Tech is no doubt helping fuel this, making it easy for people to access quality second-hand products online. And now, there’s a startup bringing the social e-commerce movement to emerging markets – Yaga.
Launched in 2019 in Estonia by Aune Aunapuu, Yaga allows people to buy and sell second-hand fashion and operates in growing markets in Asia and Africa. It gives people the fashion they want, at the prices they want, and without the harm inflicted on the planet, it’s also empowering entrepreneurial spirit in local communities. Now, Yaga has secured its first VC funding of €2.2 million to fuel its rapid growth.
Whilst born in Estonia, Yaga is operating in emerging markets of Africa and Asia, leveraging a business model that has seen notable popularity in the US and Europe and driving impact in regions most impacted by the environmental damage of fast fashion.
In the US and Europe, influencers’ stores are racking up thousands of followers. Social e-commerce has also led to large social platforms like Facebook and Instagram integrating shopping into their products, with Facebook Marketplace a popular example. However, despite their huge customer bases, global marketplaces lack localised and safe experiences to expand further.
This is what Yaga wants to achieve – and already they are underway.
Aune Aunapuu, Co-founder and CEO of Yaga, said: “There is a huge future for pre-loved fashion in emerging markets like Africa and Asia. We are big believers in the circular economy, and it’s great to see thrifting come into fashion thanks to influencers and social media. There’s also a huge economic opportunity in second-hand fashion, being able to both make and save money on Yaga. We are excited about the potential impact we can have on South Africa and beyond.”
The company has partnered with some of South Africa’s largest fashion influencers as well as local retail giants like The Foschini Group. Having recently expanded to Kenya and India, the company aims to become the largest marketplace in Africa and Asia for second-hand fashion. It’s now one of South Africa’s most popular online fashion platforms, receiving over 5 million visits per month. Over 5000 new items are listed on Yaga every day, with 750 000 items currently on sale just in South Africa.
The platform is like a mix between Instagram and eBay, allowing users to browse products in a visual feed or for influencers to create personal online stores. It also addresses one of the main risks of buying from strangers online with its escrow system. This ensures that money doesn’t change hands until both parties confirm the deal went smoothly, providing peace of mind for buyers and sellers alike. To make shopping online more accessible, Yaga offers local payment and delivery methods.
With this new investment, which is its first VC raise, Yaga aims to continue its rapid growth over the next year. The company will use the funds to develop its platform, grow its team, and attract new customers.
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