Connecting communities with their cultures, regardless of where they are, Oja has just secured pre-seed funding to scale and bring its impact-led mission to more locations.
Across Europe, our cities are becoming more cosmopolitan and defined by a mixture of cultures and communities. One of the cities, where it’s most seen, is in London – often regarded as one of the most international cities in the world.
Despite the fact people are moving to different cities and sharing their different cultures, products indicative of these cultures sometimes aren’t so accessible. Aiming to change that is Mariam Jimoh – a second-generation immigrant from Nigeria – who is behind Oja. Sitting at the intersection of grocery, culture and community, Oja was founded in 2020 with the belief that no matter where people live they should be able to access products from any and every culture. It’s a pivotal part of maintaining cultures alive, and generating dynamic, international cities.
The London-based startup has now secured a pre-seed extension round, led by LocalGlobe and with backing from footballer Raheem Sterling.
Mariam Jimoh, CEO and founder of Oja, said: “Our recent growth, the renewed backing of LocalGlobe and Raheem’s support truly speaks to the power of community, which is at the heart of my mission with Oja. Within this community, we share a love of food. We feel the intrinsic link between who we are and how we relate to our cultures through food, and we share the frustration over its access. This authenticity shines through and we’re thrilled that Raheem not only recognised the problem we’re trying to solve but wants to join us in solving it for even more people.”
Through Oja’s digital supermarket, the startup is diversifying the grocery industry, placing ethnic products just a few clicks away. Customers from a wide, and growing range of cultures can order from handpicked suppliers and have orders shipped from Oja’s warehouses and dark stores to their homes the next day.
It’s inclusive e-commerce for the modern world.
The traditional grocery industry has been fairly uninspirational when it comes to catering to international cultures, and for many immigrants finding products indicative of their culture, and community and emotionally tied to their home nation has been a struggle. It’s a problem that Mariam herself experienced and which Raheem Sterling acutely understands as a Jamaican-born Brit.
Raheem Sterling, angel investor, said: “There is such a natural connection with Oja for me. I can get my favourite home comforts, like Biggas and plantain chips, and having access to these products at short notice is amazing! I am sure that the wider African and Caribbean communities will appreciate this too, and this is a key reason why I joined this investment round; I am excited to play a part in something with both potential and purpose”.
Since its launch, the young company has expanded across London and has recently begun operations in Birmingham. Currently, the product offering caters to cultures from Nigeria, Somalia, North and East Africa, the Caribbean and surrounding islands. It offers a Halal range, now sells beauty and haircare products, and is set to expand into household items.
In this way, Oja is looking to build a one-stop-shop related to culture and establish itself as the leading ethnic-integrated e-commerce platform.
So far, Oja has reported order volumes growing around 40% month on month and an average basket size of over £60. Given that economic times have been tough, this reflects the clear market need for such a service.
With this investment, Oja will expand further into new cultures and regions, as well as level up its B2B offering.