#Asia Marketplace raises funding to help small businesses buy from Chinese manufacturers


Chinese manufacturing plant

Photo credit: 06photo / 123RF.

Singapore-based online marketplace Tjaara received an injection of US$1.2 million from Senjō Group, a Singapore-headquartered payments operator and fintech investor.

The funding will help the company launch in its chosen markets of UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and North Africa in the third quarter of 2017. Senjō has also extended US$20 million to the startup in a trade loan – not something you often see with startups but common in commerce.

Tjaara was incorporated in Singapore in August 2016. It’s a marketplace that connects manufacturers and foreign companies to wholesalers and small businesses. Merchants use Tjaara because they usually can’t afford to buy from manufacturers directly – their order volumes aren’t big enough. There is also a significant language barrier, as a lot of those manufacturers are in China.

A lot of smaller and medium-sized retailers are unable to navigate Mandarin-only manufacturer listings or access factory-direct prices.

Tjaara’s services encompass this entire cycle, including product search, translation, ordering, logistics, and more. The startup consolidates orders from many different small businesses and generates big enough order volumes to be able to unlock discounted prices.

The marketplace (which is invite-only at the moment) contains order listings that Tjaara has translated and uploaded. Businesses can request order translations for specific products. Each client has up to 50 translation requests available for free.

“We realized that a lot of smaller and medium-sized retailers were unable to navigate Mandarin-only manufacturer listings or access factory-direct prices,” says Tjaara CEO Fred Then.

“It is known that Chinese wholesale ecommerce platforms like Alibaba offer lower prices for local purchases, and when non-Chinese IP addresses are detected, the price is typically inflated. This is why Tjaara will always get better pricing as all buying is done locally through our China operations.”

Senjō’s expertise in payment systems and its global connections should be very valuable to Tjaara. “This will make our lives a lot easier,” Fred adds.

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