Jibu, a franchising social enterprise, is expanding to the Democratic Republic of Congo. “We will open Jibu drinking water franchises in Bukavu and Goma in the DRC in August 2018,” Audrey Royston, the M&E at Jibu, wrote in an email.
This expansion follows the company's closure of a $7 Million Series B financing round at the end of 2017. The figure brings the total amount of funding raised to $10 Million
Jibu wants to reach 1,000 drinking water franchises in a dozen more countries in four years time.
“The DRC expansion moves Jibu closer to realize our goal to launch 1,000 drinking water franchises in at least a dozen new countries by 2022,” wrote Audrey. “Expanding our franchising model serves new markets that are hungry for entrepreneurial opportunities and clean, affordable water.”
Founded in 2012 by Randy and Galen Welsch, Jibu provides local entrepreneurs with equipment to filtrate and bottle clean water, as they sell and market it.
The company was also part of Cohort 1 of Spring, a startup accelerator empowering girls and young women.
Jibu has raised capital through various avenues including debt and grants. This goes towards providing the franchisees with equipment, financing, in-store supplies, marketing, branding, and training to start the franchise.
Each "entrepreneur" pays a start-up fee and Franchise Network Fee as long as they reach profitability through water sold.
"As demand for Jibu products increases, so do franchising opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs across the Jibu network, including those in Uganda,” notes Audrey.
Jibu’s expansion is exemplary to emerging startups that seek to cross the borders at one point in their operation. Audrey states that it increases “customer awareness and customer adoption of Jibu."
To date, Jibu’s social franchising system has 52 "entrepreneurs" bought in. These pay an up-front, one-time licensing fee of between $1,000 to $2,000 to get some “skin in the game” before Jibu begins investing.
"After a grace period, franchisees pay a flat fee per liter - the 'Franchise Network Fee' - to Jibu based on the liters of water that flow through the water filtration unit," Audrey pointed out.
In a 2015 conversation with the Guardian, Mr. Randy Welsch projected the company to become profitable by the end of 2018. He also expressed a willingness to "maximize social returns".
“Once we feel confident that we’ve got a truly replicable business model, we want to share everything we can and enable others to copy us,” he said.
DRC will be the company's sixth operation ground, with existence in Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe already registered.
Randy said that "Jibu targets high to low and middle-income consumers (the middle 70%) in urban and peri-urban areas who typically boil their water to make it safer to drink."