Colombian start-up Elenas said that by selling products online, it is helping thousands of women make money. Today, it announced that it has raised $6 million in Series A financing.
Last fall, Elenas announced that it had received a seed investment of $2 million. Founder and CEO Zach Oschin said that demand continues to grow, especially in the context of high unemployment (especially women). At the same time, consumers are still concerned about in-person shopping during the pandemic.
Oschin said: "We have provided thousands of women with opportunities to earn extra income."
He suggested that Elenas is essentially a reinvention of the direct sales/catalog sales model, which involves 11 million women throughout Latin America. The idea is that independent sellers/entrepreneurs (usually but not always women) can browse product catalogs in categories such as beauty, personal care and electronics from more than 250 distributors and brands, all of which are sold at discounted prices . They decide what they want to sell, how much they want, and then promote the product on social channels such as WhatsApp and Facebook.
Oschin said that in addition to focusing on digital business, Elenas is more suitable for resellers because of the less risk: "We do not reserve inventory for the company, which is very different from traditional direct sales, and our entrepreneurs never own inventory. "Those entrepreneurs also don't need to be involved in things like collection or delivery, because Elenas and its distribution partners will handle all these issues.
He added: "For us, the goal is to provide a back-end operating system that provides women with everything they need to run a store."
Elenas provides sellers with an automated onboarding process, but Oschin said that in the app, “we have done a lot of work to train sellers on how to sell.”
The company (which participated in our startup battle in Latin America in 2018) said it has now paid its sellers more than $7 million. It does not restrict gender participation, but Oschin estimates that more than 95% of sellers are women, 80% of them are under 30, and one-third of them do not have any direct direct sales experience.
The new funding came from Leo Capital, FJ Labs, Alpha4 Ventures and Meesho. Oschin said that the company’s investors are spread across six continents, reflecting its international vision. Indeed, one of its next steps is to expand in Latin America, starting in Mexico and then Peru.
"After seeing the rapid development of social commerce in India and China, we are very happy to work with Elenas because they have demonstrated the correct product and operating model in the region." Leo Capital co-founder Shwetank Verma said in a statement. "The Elenas team has established a good solution that is inclusive, influential, and capable of achieving exponential growth."