Startup Tjaara forms US$21m partnership

Global payments and FinTech investment firm Senjo Group has formed a partnership with Singapore-based B2B service Tjaara.

Subsidiary Senjo Ventures has committed US$1.2 million to the start-up, and extended an extra US$20 million in trade finance. Other business units in the Senjo Group are Senjo Payments, Senjo Commerce, Senjo Trading and Senjo Finance.

Senjo Group VP of business development and head of ventures Sam Evans says Tjaara is well-placed to make it through less-than-ideal economic times. “We saw great potential in Tjaara, and realised it was aligned with our core business objective of addressing market inefficiencies.”

Tjaara, which is Arabic for “marketplace”, uses a group buying concept to aggregate demand from customers to present a large, consolidated order to prequalified manufacturers. It is essentially a global purchaser for unaligned wholesalers and businesses. It negotiates on their behalf, does quality-control checks from factory to port, and even acts as an escrow service to manage the complicated buying process between Chinese manufacturers and foreign companies.

Tjaara’s customers, or “channel partners”, are businesses or individuals who want to monetise their relationships with small- to medium-sized wholesalers.

“Tjaara is a B2B service that offers product search, translation support, ordering, logistics and finance management,” says co-founder Fred Then.

Economies of scale

“We realised that a lot of smaller and medium-sized retailers were unable to navigate Mandarin-only manufacturer listings or access factory-direct prices. Tjaara was built to help our end-users unlock a wider variety of products and larger profit margins through economies of scale. Unlike typical agents, Tjaara is also able to help with product evaluation by obtaining samples.”

Then says that while Chinese wholesale eCommerce platforms offer lower prices for local purchases, when non-Chinese IP addresses are detected the price is typically inflated. Tjaara obtains better pricing by buying locally through its China offices, and obtains bulk discounts by consolidating orders.

At the moment the platform is by invitation only. Channel partners are each allocated 50 complimentary translation requests a month.

“The biggest plus of working with an experienced partner like Senjo is definitely its expertise in payment systems plus its global footprint and connections,” says Then. “We are looking forward to scaling to greater heights with its support.”

Researched in secret for nearly two years, Tjaara was incorporated in August. Its soft launch will be in the first quarter next year, and it plans to launch fully in the third quarter.

With headquarters in Singapore, Senjo has a network of regional offices in Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Luxembourg and the UK.

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